Film: 47 Meters Down

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47 Meters Down

Once upon a time I would have felt stressed watching a sticky situation horror film like this one. I fear I am too desensitized. Plot wise, it’s pretty simple but lets break it down with me telling you what not to do when on holiday. Don’t go cage diving – it’s mean to sharks. But if you can’t resist; don’t hire a dodgy operator with a poorly maintained boat and shit gear. Always tell someone where and with whom you are going. Don’t scuba dive if you don’t know how to scuba dive. When the cage breaks and you sink 47 meters down; don’t leave the cage. Don’t panic. Don’t waste your air. Don’t freak out about the sharks. Don’t go to this movie – unless it’s raining, you’ve seen everything else, and you’re going mad with cabin fever. It’s not the worst film. But it’s no Jaws. Cinematically it’s solid. All the camera angles are fine. FX is good. The acting is alright given what it is. Divers who view the offering will have opinions on all the dive techie things – in fact it would be fun to watch with a group of PADI dive instructors and then debrief in the pub afterwards. Enough said. Your call on whether to see on the large screen or wait for it to come on TV.

Film: Atomic Blonde

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Charlize Theron and James McAvoy

Atomic Blonde is radioactive hot. White hot. It caused me to go into nuclear meltdown. [Chuckle]. No, I’m not kidding – this film staring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy is fucken awesome. Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s, it tells a cold war spy story set in Berlin in the days leading up to the fall of the wall. This David Leitch directed film is electric start to finish. I love the camera shots, the color tones, the actors [of course], and that music. Oh my gawd – that music I grew up with in the 80s – to hear it on the beautiful cinema sound system at the Roxy was seventh heaven. And isn’t Charlize the ‘it girl’?! It was wonderful to see her as an avenging angel in an almost non-stop action genre flick. I say almost because there is still a decent story and some good acting. Charlize is brilliant. I’m also a fan of McAvoy and he does not disappoint. He is perhaps one of the most versatile male actors around at the moment. Now, have I convinced you this movie is worth the effort? Get your lazy ass out the door. This film must be seen on the big screen.

Film song list here.

Film: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch

A body horror; a supernatural body horror, call it what you want but The Autopsy of Jane Doe is damn good. When the police dept come across an horrific crime scene they are puzzled by this body they find. They send it to the father and son coroner team [played by Cox & Hirsch] who begin the lengthy process of determining the cause of death. But as you can imagine, it’s not going to be so straight forward. A deceptively simple premise, director André Øvredal has delivered us a gory and downright scary movie. I’m just upset I missed it on the big screen so thank goodness for Rialto channel for allowing me to catch up on it. Brian Cox who is head coroner Tommy Tilden was excellent. He looks like a dab hand with the scalpel. And Emile Hirsch as Austin Tilden pretty good also. I recommend this film to all horror fans. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Warning: the gore is right up there. I found hot chocolate key to settling my stomach.

Book: Mortal Engines

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Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

As Sir Peter Jackson is in post production for the film version I needed to read this book ASAP. And what a wonderful yarn it is. What’s not to love about an entire city that can move from place to place eating rival towns? Reeve has a wild imagination and I love it. He has created a unique fantasy universe that had me spell bound start to finish. Most certainly a ‘steam punk’ story, I find myself looking forward to reading the next three books in the series. Although Mortal Engines is considered young adult fiction I urge all adults to seek it out – you will not be disappointed. Consequently I have high hopes for the film version and am glad Jackson is in charge. I’ve liked all his movies and the traction city of London will be in good hands. Oh – and there is the notion of Municipal Darwinism – perhaps our city Mayor would like to school up on this?!

TV: The Dance Exponents: Why Does Love?

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TV Film: The Dance Exponents: Why Does Love?

I love The Dance Exponents thus I eagerly jumped on this TV film Why Does Love? Wow. What a well put together biopic about one of New Zealand’s most loved bands of all time. Well cast across the board, I’d like to heap the lions share of praise on Jordan Mooney who played the indomitable front man Jordan Luck. Again I say Wow. At times I felt I was watching the actual band as they went through their paces. I even started singing along – yes I am a sad git. If any of you missed this flick on TVNZ just go look for it on the ‘On Demand’ pages. You won’t be disappointed. A TV highlight of the year ‘down under’.

Documentary: Prophet’s Prey

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Documentary: Prophet’s Prey

Oh Lordy; where does one even begin with a film on the topic of an out of control religion and a predatory leader of a polygamous sect? Before I rant, lets begin by saying the documentary is very well done. Congratulations Amy Berg, Sam Brower et al for a thoughtful presentation. I found this doco riveting start to finish and came away with a greater understanding of the FLDS including the infamous leader Warren Jeffs. Now can I rant? I’ll try and keep this clean. Brower’s exposé is a warning to religiously inclined folk to be on guard from ‘false prophets’. This story speaks to society as a whole to not tolerate magical thinking. But that is the least of it. When there are closed/secret societies, it is the women and children who quickly become the victims. The authorities should have acted sooner. How could they turn such a blind eye for so long? How come they continue to allow Jeffs to run his ‘church’ from prison? The man is clearly insane. And his followers – meaning the men who dominate the women and children – enable Jeffs in order to keep their perverted ways going. Yes – less call it what it is. Their ‘church’ is just a front for abuse. It is shocking to think that in the 21st century, America allows this. End rant. But for me the a key purpose of good documentaries is to spark debate and discussion. To elicit opinion and reaction. To give voice to the vulnerable. To tell the victims’ story.  In recent years the quality of the ‘doco’ across the board has steadily increased and Prophet’s Prey is in my top 100. This is a must see film.

Film: My Friend Dahmer

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Ross Lynch [center] as Jeffrey Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer is a drama, not a horror. And this disappointed a portion of the audience at our viewing. [Only sickos would be grumbling eh?!]. The film is what I would call a ‘table setter’. And it was well done. Director Marc Meyers has done a worthy job bringing the graphic novel by John Backderf to life. I think most people have heard of Jeffrey Dahmer and the horrific murders he was known for. But few knew about the high school misfit with the penchant for dead things. Cue high school classmate Backderf who thanks to his graphic novel we can perhaps fill in some gaps in Dahmer’s early years. Or is that a stretch for what is largely a work of fiction based on some childhood anecdotes? As far as casting goes for the movie, Ross Lynch was a great choice. He not only looked the part but also put in an exceptional shift in the art of the deadpan. With slumped shoulders and vacant look, Ross brought new meaning to expressionless. Top notch acting folks. So back to drama versus horror. Don’t get me wrong, the film is incredibly dark. There is some blood but don’t be expecting a Silence of the Lambs or a slash fest. If you are, then you don’t know your Dahmer that well. His first kill was 1978 after he graduates high school and this story is set during his final high school years. But will we ever know what really went on? Oh the drama! I rate this film and it is a highlight of the NZIFF. This is my third film at the New Zealand International Film Festival. I’m love’n it!

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Film: The Evil Within [2017]

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Frederick Koehler as Dennis Peterson

I’m calling this an exploitation film. Why you ask? The answer may be long my friend. Again – I say it’s exploitative. And incredibly obscene and offensive. Parents of special needs children would find his film distressing. The main character Dennis suffers from a learning disability [I use this word with caution]. He also suffers from what I would consider mental illness. Befriended by a ‘demon’ he embarks on a downward spiral of killing starting off with animals and culminating with those closest to him. So here might be the problem – some might consider this film casts a certain negative stereotype on those folk in society that are vulnerable enough as it is. However, I’m not sure the late Andrew Getty [director] even thought about such a thing. I get the feeling he just wanted to make a really scary horror flick. And that it is not. For sure this is a B grade movie around the edges. But to give it some credit there is the revered Michael Berryman as that ‘creature’. And the makeup/FX dept did a good job with him. Then there is the acting by Frederick Koehler as the ‘simple’ Dennis – which is really, really good. In fact, so good I sometimes forgot this film was an amateur, self funded, self indulgent flick by a rich kid. At times I was enjoying a deft horror piece and I rate Koehler highly. But every time we left Fred and Berryman the film showed up it’s flaws. The supporting cast of actors were crap. The cinematography outside the dreams-capes was amateur. And a few to many one liners were cringe inducing [but not in a classic B horror way]. I digress. Does the film warrant spending your leisure money on an outing at the cinema? Nope. No way. Whilst not the worst it is still a piece of rubbish overall. It will be distressing to a large portion of the population. Remember I said it was exploitative? If educators and parents get wind of this movie I see protests and petitions for it to be banned. And most certainly an R18 label attached. Patricia Bartlet might even come back from the dead to do battle.

This is my second film at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Heading to my third helping this evening.NZIFF

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Michael Berryman as The Demon

Film: Super Dark Times

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Charlie Tahan as Josh

Do parents the world over know what their teenage boys are up to? Probably not. Teens can be feral. They make poor choices. Things can get out of control quickly. They stay stom. Bad shit happens then gets worse and worse. Boys get jealous over girls and rivalries erupt. Super Dark Times directed by Kevin Phillips is a journey into the warped mines of a group of four boys. It’s a disturbing coming of age film which reminds us how bad decisions have lingering effects. It’s well written and I take my hat off to the Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski writing team. The entire cast can also take a bow – this was so well acted. I’ll single out a few stand outs though: Owen Campbell as Zach, Charlie Tahan as Josh, and finally Max Talisman as Darryl. These three young men have bright futures on the big screen. All their performances in this film are worthy of awards. They were utterly convincing as teenage freaks. Their portrayals hit a raw nerve with me as I reminisce back to my own younger days which were in the same era as this film is set. How I made it through to adulthood is a miracle. In fact how any young man survives high school is a tribute to Providence for sure. Super Dark Times is my first film at the New Zealand International Film Festival and I’m looking forward to the next one tonight. [Great film line up by the way]. Go here for the schedule and latest updates: NZIFF

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New Zealand International Film Festival – Check out the amazing line up.

 

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Elizabeth Cappuccino as Allison and Owen Campbell as Zach :: Super Dark Times

TV: I’m Dying Up Here

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RJ Cyler , Michael Angarano , Clark Duke 

At first I wondered if this Showtime comedy offering was killing me. But I’m pleased to say I’m still alive and now three episodes in I’m really enjoying it. Centered around ‘Goldie’s’ comedy club, the series explores the life and work of a group of comics in LA in the early 70s. While some of the stand up routines on Goldie’s stage aren’t all that funny, the situation comedy in between is enough to make me snort into my drink. I’ve looked after comedians in real life and have always found them to be a fragile bunch. Comedy is after all a confidence game and it doesn’t take much for a joker to start down that slippery slope of self doubt. I’ve had to coach, counsel and cajole comedians onto stages. Going as far as to get one funny man to get back out there after an interval – he thought people weren’t laughing hard enough at his jokes in the first half. So I watch this TV series with a level of understanding and appreciation for the script and the boys and girls delivering their one-liners. If you haven’t seen I’m Dying Up Here by David Flebotte, I urge you to track it down and strap yourself in. It’s a good one.