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My Week in Film 26th September – 3rd October 2019

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Joker (2019) Movie Review

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot: A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.


Tagline – Put on a happy face.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Twist on the Origin Story

Story: Joker starts as we meet want to be entertainer Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), he works as a clown through a range a roles, though he does have a reputation for being difficult, he lives in a rundown apartment with his mother Penny (Conroy), with dreams of making it as a stand up comedian, with his idol being Murray Franklin (De Niro) the host of a daily show.

As Arthur starts to see certain parts of his life fall apart, he sees a blossom relationship with his neighbour Sophie (Beetz) until he learns the truth about his past and learns to put on his happy face to become Joker.

Thoughts on Joker

Characters – Arthur Fleck is a loner that has been struggling for work, he wants to be an entertainer and is working on his own material to try his luck at stand-up comedy. He starts a new relationship and thinks his life is going in a new direction, until he learns the truth, becoming the icon we know. Murray Franklin is the host of his own talk show, he handles the comedy of the real events and is the man Arthur sees as an idol, he sees one of the clips of the stand up and puts it on his own show. Sophie is the neighbour and single mother that starts a relationship with Arthur, showing him in a better life. Penny is the mother of Arthur, she sees only the good in the richest man in the town and writes to him often waiting for a reply from her former employer. While most of the characters do have more about them, though most details will contain full spoilers.

PerformancesJoaquin Phoenix gives us a wonderful performance, showing his commitment to the role, which will be one people will talk about when award season hits. Robert De Niro is joy to watch as the charismatic talk show host. Zazie Beetz is good to watch, though she just doesn’t get enough screen time. Frances Conroy is strong to through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a man that has been failed by the society and the mental health system, which sees him struggle to deal with reality and begin his path to become one of the most iconic comic villains. This is much like Venom, a strange choice for a character to bring to the centre stage because we shouldn’t be backing a villainous character, but this time we do get everything connecting to why Joker became who he is. By stepping into how mental health can be brushed aside at times forcing people to fall through the cracks, not being treated the correct way to help them. If you are expecting any sort of comic book movie, you will be lost in this one because nothing we see has anything that couldn’t become a reality, which is what could make the film feel unsettling in places. This is also a story that could have been told without needing to throw a big character name like the Joker in around it and it might have been even better if it didn’t rely on the familiar name.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how Arthur starts by being a victim, before he starts to try and show just how far he will go to stand up for himself.

SettingsThe film does use the settings brilliantly, showing how Arthur has come from the bottom, never been given a thing in life, which does reflect just how we would see a Batman figure born with wealth.


Scene of the Movie – Talk show time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I didn’t like the laughing stuff, it would include spoilers to why though.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting a dark spin on the world for one of the biggest names in comic book history, without making it feel like a comic book in anyway.

Overall: Dark and as Twisted as You Would Imagine.

Pod (2015)

Director: Mickey Keating

Writer: Mickey Keating (Screenplay)

Starring: Lauren Ashley Carter, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Larry Fessenden, John Weselcouch

 

Plot: A family intervention goes horrifically awry within the snowy confines of an isolated lake house.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Punch

 

Story: Pod starts when brother Ed (Cates) and sister Lyla (Carter) go to the remote cabin of their brother Martin (Morvant) who has always been on edge, but this time Ed believes he has gone over the edge. Arriving at the cabin they learn Martin is having another one of his paranoid episodes as he believes he is being followed by a pod monster, Ed tries to talk him around, while Lyla is willing to follow the story.

As the intervention goes on Lyla and Ed continue to discuss the best course of action for their brother as we are left to see what the truth will be.

 

Thoughts on Pod

 

Characters – Lyla is the loose cannon sibling, she enjoys a drink and a party and is tired of her big brother trying to protect her, once we hit the cabin though she is generic woman in trouble screaming a lot. Ed is the doctor and big brother of the siblings. He wants the family together to help on edge sibling and stays calm through the film through each decision going on. Martin is the former soldier that has returned a different man, he has been in and out of hospitals and now living alone his paranoia can only grow.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are focused on the three main actors, if we are being honest none of them set the world alight here, with Lauren Ashley Carter being completely over the top with her reactions, Dean Cates being very bland with his actions and Brian Morvant never hitting the marks of a true crazy person.

StoryThe story here feels like it should be focusing on the relationship between the siblings, as we have the two left to decide whether their brother is insane or there is something happening in the cabin, the balance is shown early on but then soon just becomes a creature feature which fails to deliver because of the abrupt style of anything happening. There was a large part of potential here, but the bickering doesn’t make you care and the conspiracy theory all becomes something we have seen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes in the final 15 minutes and never draws us into being scared and like the mystery side of the film just doesn’t become the important side of things like it should do.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the cabin which does plan into the isolation and paranoid idea.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well and only when needed with most being practical dealing with creating the pod.


Scene of the Movie –
What is in the basement.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We didn’t explore the different life styles of the two siblings.

Final ThoughtsThis is a lacklustre horror mystery movie that doesn’t use its strengths well enough through the film.

 

Overall: Lacklustre Horror Movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – D – Drag Me to Hell (2009) Movie Rob’s Pick

Movie Rob’s pick here, head over to his site to read more reviews

Alison Lohman in Drag Me to Hell (2009)“I beg you and you shame me? ” – Mrs. Ganush

Number of Times Seen – Twice (28 Jun 2009 and 2 Oct 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A young ambitious loan officer rejects an extension on a loan form an old woman and has a demonic curse placed on her.

My Take on it – As a film lover who is not a big fan of horror films, this was a hard month for me to choose what movies to watch for this series.

This is actually a movie that I recalled going to see on a date over a decade ago because the girl was a horror fan and I decided to indulge her wishes to see it.

I even recall inquiring why she loves horror genre so much and her response was “because it is so unpredictable and anything can happen at any point in time.”

This film actually has an intriguing plot that works most of the time and stays entertaining.

Unfortunately, it probably could have been a bit more impactful, but still manages to get across what it attempts to.

The story remains unpredictable throughout and finds ways to keep surprising as things move along and the story unfolds.

Allison Lohman is an interesting choice as the lead especially since she feels so miscast in the role yet excels in every scene she is given.

As expected from a Sam Raimi horror film, this movie has a fair amount of blood and gore that might seem a bit excessive yet helps make this even more horrific along the way.

The film has lost of twists and turns along the way that helps keep it feeling fresh and interesting as the story gets more and more intriguing especially given the fact that we never truly know where things are heading.

Bottom Line – Interesting idea that works most of the time, but fails to really be more impactful. The way that the story remains unpredictable is done quite well and keeps things surprising as the story unfolds. Lohman is quite good in the lead because she seems so miscast and that helps keep things intriguing as the plot thickens. The amount of blood and gore is on par with what one should expect from Raimi even if at some points if feels excessive. The story stays full of twists and turns that helps keep it enjoyable throughout. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – In the movie, Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza) mentions her late husband Sander, a reference to both Sam Raimi’s older sibling, Sander Raimi, who died in a swimming accident at age fifteen while on a trip to Israel, and his oldest nephew, Sander Rubin. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – D – Dark Feed (2013)

Director: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

Writer: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen (Screenplay)

Starring: Jonathan Thomson, Dayna Cousins, Andrew Rudick, Michael Scott Allen, Elise Couture, Jason Beaubien, Victoria Nugent

 

Plot: A film crew moves into an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past to shoot a low budget horror movie.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusingly Messy

 

Story: Dark Feed starts as we see the early stages of filming of a horror movie being shot on location in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. We get to see the stars, director and the people working on the movie before the writer Chris (Rudick) joins the set to see how his creation comes out.

With Beth (Nugent) and Marissa (Cousins) assigned to keep Chris busy, the rest of the crew start experiencing strange occurrences which have a connection to the previous experiments that happened in the hospital.

 

Thoughts on Dark Feed

 

Characters – The characters are all designed to be different members of a film crew from actors to special effects guys, we just get to learn which part of the movie they are involved in without getting to see much else about the characters themselves. We don’t see to learn enough about any of the characters making it hard to figure out just who is meant to be the lead character.

PerformanceThe performances are not great which does reflect the idea of the film but by the end you are just left wondering if the lead character is going to take over the performing but no.

StoryThe story is film crew in former mental hospital that once did experiments on the patients is haunted and now they are about to become the latest victims of the hospital, this is fine but sadly it just doesn’t reach the levels it should do with scares which are mostly messing around between the crew and just something we have seen before.

HorrorThere is little to no scares going on through this movie, we have moments that build up but in the end most are false scares which just make you not care about later ones.

SettingsThe setting is the highlight of the film as we get to see the haunted abandoned location making for the scares.

Special EffectsThe effects are not that impressive either.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing who was the main character until too late into the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film with a good idea but sadly turns into something that gets confusing as we are left wondering who to root for and just if anything scary will happen.

 

Overall: Messy Horror Film

Rating