Monthly Archives: September 2016

Satanic

satanic_rgb-dvd-frontSatanic, directed by Jeffrey G. Hunt, the movie starts off with a group of college coeds driving in a van visiting old Satanic Panic-era sites in Los Angeles. They end up following the creepy owner of an occult store home, only to find themselves saving a suspicious girl from an apparent human sacrifice. Only this so-called victim turns out to be much more dangerous than the cult from which she escaped.

The movie is a super-low-budget horror movie with “From The Producers of The Walking Dead” on the DVD cover, which saved the movie from coming across rather boring and poorly filmed. The story doesn’t start until 40 minutes into the film with the characters about as interesting as playdough.

The movie stars Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Steven Krueger (The Originals), Justin Chon (Twilight), Sophia Dalah (Unbroken) and Clara Mamet (The Neighbors).  Hunt has directed some TV shows like CSI and Scorpion, but he is pretty much a Steadicam operator or assistant director, which is the bulk of his experience. Remember that when you watch this movie.

The story follows four college students. Before taking a road trip to Coachella, the group checks into the Flower Hotel, the scene of Lainey Gore’s gruesome suicide in homage to Satan himself, for their own satanic tour in the City of Angels.

The thrill seekers visit the site of the infamous Manson murders and an unnerving satanic store, leading the group to mistakenly interrupt a cult’s sacrifice of a girl named Alice. Ultimately allowing her to break free, the travelers soon begin to question her innocence as she has an unsettling admiration for the spirit of Lainey Gore.

Truly, nothing much happens in the movie with the exception of a suicide and much of the horrific stuff is off-camera.  The repercussions of the horrifying elements are all that is shown. Horror movie fans will without a doubt be interested in seeing this movie until they reach end and notice how many unique ways Hyland can scream. The drawing of the pentagrams, five-star mystic and magical symbol, on the wall is really not that scary.

Sunset Song

sunsetsongSunset Song, directed by Terence Davies, follows Chris Guthrie, played steadily by Agyness Deyn, beginning with her in school, where she and her classmates are struggling in a French language class. Soon she meanders along as we get know her family, clearly, a struggle with her beloved mom, played heart-wrenchingly by Daniela Nardini, and her grumpy dad, played solidly by Peter Mullan.

Patently, her mother is not in a nurturing relationship, and her father is abusive with her and his eldest son, Will, played to the hilt by Jack Greenlees. Will longs to leave home because he is fed up with being abused and bossed around by his dad.  The movie meanders more with beautiful scenes of the Scottish land while Chris suffers through hardships. But, she is strong and gets through each poignant moment because the land she lives on never oppressions her and is always there supporting her no matter what tragedy she goes through.

Having Scottish decedents, I wanted to see this movie set in Scotland during the turn of the century and in the shadow of World War I. Sunset Song is the coming of age story of Chris as we follow her through personal hardships. Eventually, Chris is left alone to tend to the family farm and fend for herself against their abusive father, who eventually dies. Believing she finally found happiness, Chris marries Ewan, played intuitively by Kevin Guthrie, who enlists in the army to fight in The Great War, leaving Chris to tend to the family farm by herself. Ewan returns on leave and the brief reunion is not romantic but coarse and hard to bear. Yet, Chris stays strong and tends the farm after Ewan goes back to the front lines in France.

A tale of steadfast resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity. Yet, the meandering feel of the movie is the irony to the story. Such tranquility in the land but harsh injustice in society. Davies direction pulls it off well.

With cinematography by Michael McDonough, the movie looks more than just visually appealing from start to finish. McDonough captures the tone and era along with the heartache and loss of The Great War.

The movie is based on one of Scotland’s most cherished and notable novels in the last century.  A look at six years in the life of a peasant farm family before and just after the bloodshed of World War I. Life was severe, markedly for the women, who had no control over their destiny. The movie is worth seeing if you want an honest Scottish story that wanders incrementally from hardship to hardship.  The dialogue is totally Scottish, so switch on the English subtitles if it bothers you or just set back and enjoy the movie.

First Monday in May

firstmondayFirst Monday in May, directed by Andrew Rossi, is an experience I thoroughly enjoyed because I have never been a woman of fashion. It is nice to get a rare peek at the behind-the-scenes of the ultra-exclusive Met Gala.

I have produced videos with fashion experts, which is all fine and good, but this movie is unique because it centers on the celebrated event taking place annually at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Rossi is a Yale graduate, who has been nominated for an Emmy, his door opener is the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times.  His latest movie proves to be a fashion film not meant to be missed, follow Andrew Bolton and Gala co-chair and Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour during the crucial eight months before the show’s debut, as they travel from New York to Paris to Beijing to build support for their daring endeavor.

Revealing a fascinating look at the creation of The Met’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition, an exploration of Chinese-inspired Western fashions, the film explores how the gala continues to inspire high fashion, art, and culture. Diving into the debate of whether to view fashion as art, the documentary focuses on the creativity of fashion and brings it to life.

Rossi speaks with renowned creators including filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai as well as preeminent fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Guo Pei and John Galliano. They all offer a unique look at the relationship between art, craft, and commerce.

The epic fundraiser raises enough money to operate the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an entire year. In the documentary, we see Hollywood celebrities galore including Kate Hudson, George Clooney, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Gong Li, and Lady Gaga. Then, there are Alicia Keyes, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Michael Bloomberg and Rihanna, who literally brings down the house with a stunning live performance.

Do I recommend First Monday in May? Yes. Rossi dives into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art, which I find very intriguing because I know nothing about fashion. I only recently became interested when I started working with fashion consultants in video productions.

 

The Ones Below

3d_rgb_theonesbelow_brwrpThe Ones Below, written and directed by David Farr, is an intense psychological thriller. The movie features really good acting and the suspense keeps the movie flowing intensely. The movie stars Clémence Poés, best known for playing Fleur in Harry Potter, David Morrissey, Stephen Campbell Moore and Laura Birn. The British movie is really intense and ideal for those who appreciate a thriller with gripping fear.

Expecting their first child, Kate, believably played by Poésy, and Justin, played by Moore, become friendly with their new neighbors, Jon, played by Morrissey, and Theresa, played by Birn, who are also expecting, in the downstairs apartment. With the undertones, there is a sense that something is dreadfully off and threatening about the new downstairs neighbors. Things take a turn after a dinner party upstairs and the new neighbors start to show sinister intentions towards Kate and Justin after an unfortunate tragedy strikes. The relationship turns threatening, leaving the couple fearful for their well-being. With an ending that twists around and leaves an unsettling feeling of despair, this psychological battle with the tenants in the apartment downstairs continuously keeps the tension and tone of the movie at a high level.

Farr, the screenwriter for both Hanna and The Night Manager, make his directorial debut with this movie. He did a fine job of crafting a dark, modern fable in which the lives of two couples become fatally intertwined. Kate and Justin live in the upstairs flat of a London house. Thirty-something, successful and affluent, they are expecting their first baby. Everything appears well on the surface though Kate harbors deep-rooted fears about her fitness to be a mother and her ability to love her child.

One day, another couple, Jon and Theresa move into the empty apartment below. They are also expecting a baby and, in stark contrast to Kate, Theresa is full of joy at the prospect of imminent motherhood. Pregnancy brings the women together in a blossoming friendship as Kate becomes entranced by Theresa’s unquestioning celebration of her family-to-be. Everything changes one night at a dinner party in Kate and Justin’s flat. Kate begins to sense that all is not as it seems with the couple below. Then a tragic accident throws the couples into a nightmare and a reign of psychological terror begins.

Keep in mind, The Ones Below is a dark movie and stays that way to the end.

Snoopy, Come Home

snoopycmehomI visited the Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, California for my daughter’s sake, thinking I would be bored out of my head. Boy, was I wrong, I discovered Charles Schulz, the genius who created a series of Peanuts comic strips that voiced the current social conflicts of the time and still today. Women rights, pray in schools, draft, and war. Growing up, I did read the comic strip without realizing he was bringing up social issues. As a young girl, I marveled at the expressions and characters of each personality. I watched the television specials with my family falling in love with Snoopy.

Watching Snoopy, Come Home brought memories back during the nights I’d watch the Peanuts specials with my family. I am still in love with Snoopy because he is so innocent yet creative. In this Peanuts movie, the story is quite good. It begins with him running off to visit Lila, his original owner, who is in the hospital. Woodstock goes with him, but they are captured by a rather overbearing girl who demands Snoopy and Woodstock be her pets.

Being clever the two escape, which includes some very funny and misplaced steps of amusement. Back at Charlie Brown’s home, he is concerned with finding out about Lila. Who is she? I will not share the ending of the movie, but I will tell you that it is so much fun to watch Snoopy get into many mishaps as he tries to sneak into places where dogs are not allowed.

The movie is tried and true, and now released on Blu-ray. The new format adds more of a sparkle with a widescreen format. Keep in mind parents, that the going away party for Snoopy might be a tearjerker for the kids or trouble understanding why people are so sad at a party. Still, the humor is fun to watch and offers great laughs.

High-Rise

high-riseHigh-Rise, from genre-bending director Ben Wheatley, is an attempt to adapt the classic J.G. Ballard novel of the same name with a brilliant and talented cast including Tom Hiddleston, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss. If you watch the movie knowing it is dark satire, then you might not have a problem watching this movie. It is boring at times because the pacing is off, but the acting is what saves the movie.

But the message is clear and just as poignant today as it follows the inevitable result of a breakdown of social strata and public decorum, known as class warfare. The classic book is a dystopia with a very strong message, but the movie doesn’t even come near to the heart of the book.

Dr. Robert Laing, played pretty solid by Hiddleston, recently moved into a luxury, high-rise apartment building designed by the enigmatic Mr. Royal, played by Irons. With a literal divide of the classes, the wealthiest residents live on the upper floors with the best amenities while residents on the lower floors experience routine blackouts and other disruptions of basic services. As additional flaws in the building begin to emerge, both physically and socially, the lower floor residents revolt, turning the building into a battlefield for an all-out class warfare.

I wanted the movie to be good and worth seeing because the Ballard’s book tells a great story and the actors are really good. Yet, the script and editing could be tighter. It just dragged on and on with no reason.

The Blu-ray comes with some bonus features that includes a commentary from Tom Hiddleston, Ben Wheatley and Producer Jeremy Thomas, an in-depth look at adapting the beloved novel from the page to the screen, a look at the acclaimed film’s 70s set design, special effects, and more.

In-Lawfully Yours

front-artIn-Lawfully Yours, directed by Robert Kirbyson, is a Christian faith movie where the discovery of the joys of falling in love in unexpected places makes it an enchanting romantic comedy. The sweet and wholesome movie features talented, funny and seasoned actors like Chelsey Crisp, Marilu Henner, Corbin Bernsen, Phillip Boyd and Joe Williamson. The Dove Foundation has granted the film a 4 out of 5 rating and a faith-friendly seal for ages 12 and older.

The story follows Jesse, played by Crisp, who is a New York City girl. She knows how to be fun in a heartfelt way. You just like her, right way. And you feel for her when she finds out her husband Chaz, played honestly by Boyd, cheats on her and eventually divorces her. Still, Jesse stands by her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi played by Henner and graciously helps her pack up her home in small-town Bethel Cove.

This is where Crip’s acting talent shines. She plays Jesse as a big city girl with candid wit. Yet, the small town clashes with her eccentric questions about religion and offbeat behavior around the local community, including the town pastor Ben, played by Williamson. Ben also happens to be her ex-husband’s brother-in-law.

As the story unfolds, Ben and Jesse discover what they are both looking for — each other. But when they make their relationship public, Jesse’s ex-husband rallies the community against her and gets Ben fired from the church.  Jesse leaves Bethel Cove to bring peace to Ben’s situation and to hopefully find a place where she truly belongs, in spite of the fact that she can’t stop thinking about Ben.

The ending is really great and fun to watch, but I will not tell you what happens. You have to see for yourself, but it is worth watching.

Much of the filming of the movie took place on and around Regent’s Virginia Beach with nearly 80 graduate and undergraduate students working on the film. The DVD includes special behind-the-scenes features, highlighting the student filmmakers who helped bring this really fun movie to watch to the screen.