The Penthouse (2021) Movie Review

Director: Massimiliano Cerchi

Writer: David Schifter (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Pare, Nicholas Turturro, Krista Grotte Saxon, Vanessa Ore, David Schifter

Plot: A man covering up a crime assumes a nosy neighbor may have seen what he did. He turns the neighbor’s lives upside down to keep his secret. But is there more to his motive?


Tagline – Sometimes it’s best to mind your own business.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Penthouse starts when Peter (Schifter) and Amanda Wright (Ore) move into a penthouse apartment overlooking the bay area, where they see one boat remain there longer than they expected, owned by Charles (Pare) and his girlfriend Tess (Saxon) that he is always controlling.

When Tess vanishes, Peter and Amanda start getting concerned and after they confront Charles about her, they find their own lives turned upside down.

Thoughts on The Penthouse

ThoughtsThe Penthouse brings us another modern attempt to bring us a version of Rear Window, with an overly nosey neighbour finding themselves caught up in the middle of a crime that doesn’t easily get explained. This is one doesn’t seem to bring anything to the original story, with the basics of the story being here, nothing seems to end up feeling inspiring. The characters do seem flat, with the couple overlooking the bay being out of their depth, while the villainous Charles never gets played out to have any sense of innocence about what is going on, which is what makes the story feel more unique. This does have one of the biggest anti-climaxes that will leave us feeling empty as it isn’t even shot well.

Final Thoughts The Penthouse is a flat thriller that has the idea right, only ending up feeling empty.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – K – The Kite Runner (2007) Movie Review

Director: Marc Forster

Writer: David Benioff (Screenplay) Khaled Hosseini (Novel)

Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub, Sayer Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, Mir Mahmood Shah Hashimi

Plot: After spending years in California, Amir returns to his homeland in Afghanistan to help his old friend Hassan, whose son is in trouble.


Tagline – There is a way to be good again.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Kite Runner starts when an adult Amir (Abdalla) receives a call in California from a former friend back in Afghanistan, which will see Amir (Ebrahimi) look back to his childhood where he was friends with Hassan (Mahmoodzada) in Kabol, even if they were from different backgrounds, they had the typical bullying situations in the city, which will see horrific actions committed towards Hassan, with their love for kite flying being the thing that kept them positive.

After the Soviet Union invaded Amir and his family escape the bloodshed to America, where they build a new life that was never in the privilege they once had. Amir got an education and even looked to break traditions, but this phone call will change the next stage of his life forever.

Thoughts on The Kite Runner

Characters & Performances – Amir is the man that needs to return home after spending a lifetime away, as a child he was shield with his father’s position granting him the safety in life, but what has friend goes through will leave him with nightmares. As an adult he has look to make a difference becoming an author, getting married until he learns what happened to his friend, forcing him to return to learn the truth about his childhood friend. Both Khalid Abdalla and Zekeria Ebrahimi are brilliant in this film, bring this character to life through two different generations of his life. Soraya is the wife Amir marries that is there to support him through life, despite being the daughter of a once feared general. Rahim Khan is the father that always wanted the best for his son, even after the invasion, he gets on working in America to make this a reality for him. The film does have strong performances throughout its difficult subject matters.

StoryThe story here follows a man that must return to his childhood city and country after years away after learning about his best childhood friend, here he looks back at their friendship, growing up together and the life he has battle through to become the success he is now. This story is a highlight of the sudden change in countries, showing us the Afghanistan change which will leave friendships broken and lives changed forever. We get to see the life of Amir, from the innocent beginnings to the life changing environment of America, showing he will always shave a past he needs to protect and that friendship will last forever. It does have a sense of adventure in the way that Amir need to return, but the dangers are real, with his mission worth the risk.

ThemesThe Kite Runner is a drama that shows us the difference in clashes within Afghanistan, showing the giant line drawn between the wealthy and the poor that gets destroyed by a war. We get to see the wealthy needing to work everyday jobs in another country to rebuild the life they once had or at least give their child a chance at a better future. The locations are key to this film, showing us just how different life has been for each character involved.

 

The Kite Runner is a powerful drama that will show us the importance of friendship even after war.

The Long Way Back (2020) Movie Review

Director: E.B. Hughes

Writer: E.B. Hughes (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Borkowski, Denny Dale Bess, Patrick T McGowan, Don Striano, Reyna Kahan, Ron Rey

Plot: A down on his luck ex-con, returns to New York where he must face the harsh reality of everyday life, and the people who haunt him from his past.

Runtime: 1 Hour 11 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Long Way Back starts when Max (Bess) is released from prison, looking to get back on his feet with his friend Ziggy (Striano) setting him up with an apartment, as he starts the hunt for a job. Max meets his neighbour Sara (Kahan) who is the only person not in the negative world on the apartment, while his former boss Lucius Jones (Borkowski) is hunting him down to reclaim his money he believes he is owed.

As Max spends more time on the outside, he will see his old temptation return as not everything is running a smoothly, but it will give him a chance to finally put his demons behind him.

Thoughts on The Long Way Back

ThoughtsThe Long Way Back is a crime drama showing how an ex-con could be left in a position of not being given much of a chance to start a fresh by people and will start to get circled by the criminal friends that let him down before. It will show that once the right person comes into your life, you can start to put yourself on the right path, no matter how many people try to stop you. The acting in this film is solid with the cast bringing their own traits to their characters, with the world we enter being filled with a hopeless about what the future has, showing the darker side of New York.

Final Thoughts The Long Way Back is a gritty crime drama about finding redemption.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – J – A Bittersweet Life (2005) Movie Review

This is under J because of director Jee-woon Kim.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim (Screenplay) Dong-Cheol Kim (Character)

Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Whang, Roe-ha Kim

Plot: Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn’t proceed by his boss’s orders.


Tagline – When doing right goes very, very wrong.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brutal

Story: A Bittersweet Life starts when one of Mr Kang’s (Kim) best enforcers Sun-woo (Lee) is assigned to watch over a young woman Hee-soo (Shin) to make sure she is dating other men, to which Sun-woo discovers, given them a warning never see each other again, going against his boss’s orders.

When Mr Kang learns the truth that Sun-woo has disobeyed him, he treats him like anyone else who has crossed him, leaving him for dead, forcing Sun-woo to look for his own revenge.

Thoughts on A Bittersweet Life

Characters – Sun-woo is one of the most loyal enforcers for Mr Kang, he will always get the job done, demands quiet respect for his work too, he is given a strange assignment to watch over a young woman and deal with any problems, which he doesn’t, leading to him coming face to face with his boss, who wants him to suffer for breaking the promise. Hee-soo is a beautiful young woman that Mr Kang wants for his own, she is trying to live her own life, she doesn’t want Mr Kang in it and when Sun-woo shows her mercy she looks to leave the life behind. Mr Kang is the ruthless mod boss that is using the enforcers to control the city, he has the best men in place, but his vices are women which will see him wanting to keep them for himself, turning on anyone that crosses him or fails to follow orders.

PerformancesByung-hun Lee is brilliant in the leading role, he shows the outsider figure he has created, while showing the deadly side when pushed to the limits. Min-a Sin is great as the woman trapped in this world, while Yeong-cheol Kim is great as the ruthless mob boss that won’t accept anything but the best from his men.

StoryThe story here follows an enforcer that is forced into a job that he doesn’t follow through on, which sees him boss turn on him, wanting to torture and kill him, only for him to escape and extract his own form of revenge. This is a brutal revenge story that shows that if you cross the one person you trust the most, you will pay the consequences, even if you were to throw everyone at the person you want to stop. While we could imagine just how this story will unfold, it is the relentless nature of the revenge side of it that keeps us glued to what will happened next.

ActionThe action for the second half of the film, does feel relentless, with the pure number of fights, shoot outs and battles Sun-woo goes through to get his own revenge for what has happened to him.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to show how the highest members of the mob will be in the penthouse areas, looking down on the people of the world, while the small duties happen in the shadows.


Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not having enough time with Hee-soo’s life.

Final Thoughts This is a hard hitting brutal action film that never holds back in the bloodshed of the battles. Byung-hun Lee is excellent in the leading role, carrying everything in the fights and emotional stakes of the film too.

Overall: Hard-Hitting.

After the Pandemic (2021) Movie Review

Director: Richard Lowry

Writer: Richard Lowry (Screenplay)

Starring: Eve James, Kannon Smith

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: After the Pandemic starts as we meet Ellie (James) a young girl roaming the streets alone in the aftermath of a global pandemic, a lone survivor that is learning about a new city when she starts to get followed by a group of masked men.

When Ellie narrowly escapes the men thanks to another woman Quinn (Smith) she gets to learn the lesson about what is going on in this city, with the dangers waiting her, as the pair start to work together to survive and escape the city and the threats.

Thoughts on After the Pandemic

Characters & Performances – Ellie is the young woman travelling around the city alone, needing to learn about a new threat, unaware of what they want, she craves friendship, which Quinn ends up bring her, Ellie is the pure and innocent figure in this world. Quinn has been surviving in this city for a while, she is tough, prepared and ready to make the difficult decisions in this world, she does prefer to be alone, but finds herself willing to let Ellie into her new world. The two stars of the movie Eve James and Kannon Smith are both great in their roles, showing the differences between the two characters in the film. Any of human characters we meet are only threats to the women, we learn about what we are likely to meet through the interactions between the two women.

StoryThe story here follows the two young women that meet during the aftermath of a pandemic, scavenging to survive and learning about the threats the world now has to offer. This story does keep the idea of survival in the main focus, showing us the world that has changed, showing the threats in the world. The story is kept simple with how the friendship is bought together with the similar desire to survive and not be alone. We do have the threats we would expect, with the tracking figures bringing a new approach to hunting for survivors.

ThemesAfter the Pandemic is a sci-fi horror that puts the lonely ideas of travelling around the world where the population has been wiped out during a pandemic. The cities being empty look even more haunting, without it being a chaotic sequence leading up to the events. This is made with a micro budget, which is used to make the most of what little was available to give us the excellent cinematography being used in the film.

 

After the Pandemic is an excellent look at an open abandoned world filled with dangers through the eyes of two survivors.