ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – N – Natural City (2003) Movie Review

Director: Byung-chun Min

Writer: Byung-chun Min, Jae-rim Han (Screenplay)

Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Jae-un Lee, Rin Seo, Eun-pyo Jeong, Doo-hong Jung, Hyo-Seon Kim, Ju-hye Ko

Plot: In the year 2080, the world is connected by a massive computer network. Combiners have developed a process that allows them to merge the souls of human and machine/cyborg, wreaking havoc in a deeply divided society.


Tagline – The war has begun…

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Less Interesting Blade Runner

Story: Natural City starts in the year 2080, in a world where cyborgs are part of the world, taking the place of human bodies, containing their souls, R (Yu) is one of the military police that hunts down cyborgs that are out of control, with his latest mission seeing him disgraced by his boss as they hunt for the deadly Cyper (Jung).

R has been illegal collecting the AI chips from the cyborgs to sell on the black market, he sells the chip from Cyper to buy himself a cyborg called Ria (Seo) one without much time left in her system. R’s latest assignment is to track down Cyon (Lee) who is an unregistered living in the city, that could hold answers to the future.

Thoughts on Natural City

Characters – R is a military police officer that has been struggling to deal with the work of eliminating cyborgs, he has been working on making money on the side with a plan to rescue a cyborg from the life she is stuck in. he isn’t the strongest soldier, but he will do what it takes to fight for what is right. Cyon is the mysterious young woman that is the key to the battle going on, she is unregistered and is wanted by the police for her work on the streets. Ria is the aging cyborg that R wants to save, she only has days left which see her being taken, while still trying to find her purpose in the world before it is too late. Noma is the leader of the police unit that R is in, he clashes with his friend even if they do want the same thing at times.

PerformancesThe performance in the film are solid enough from the whole cast, nobody looks out of place, though we could have seen more from them if we are going to reach the next level.

StoryThe story here takes us into a future where cyborgs are used with a limited life span, when they go rogue the military police track them down and in this story they are trying to break out to become the main force in the world. This story was difficult to keep up with in places because we are watching something that does seem similar to Blade Runner, in nearly everything single way. We the that we have three different sides coming into a potential war doesn’t help because too many different people are trying to prove themselves as the hero of their own story.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in this film is big and does show a style which has been borrowed from other films, it has great moments which will become the highlight of the film. The sci-fi world that we enter is wonderful too, it shows the typical ideas that we have been led to believe too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different worlds being lived in, showing us the environments that both are coming from or aiming to.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the different developments of the cyborgs, we get to see just how they are created and destroyed.


Scene of the Movie – Cyborg escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many similarities to Blade Runner.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting spin on the Blade Runner idea, with a deeper story going on without hitting the neo-noir tone.

Overall: Just another Blade Runner.

Heath Ledger Weekend – Ned Kelly (2003) Movie Review

Director: Gregor Jordan

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay) Robert Drewe (Novel)

Starring: Heath Ledger, Orland Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan

Plot: An innocent man becomes one of the most wanted criminals the world has ever known.


Tagline – When the law tried to silence him a legend was born.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Ned Kelly starts in 1871 Australia where an Irish family the Kelly’s have settled in with the eldest son Ned (Ledger) ends up getting into trouble with the law, that has always targeted his family, seeing him placed in prison for a couple of years. Once out Ned does start to try and turn his family’s luck around with his friends Joseph Byrne (Bloom) and Aaron Sherritt (Edgerton), while working for an English family where Ned falls for Julia (Watts).

When Ned gets framed for assault by the constable that has always been out for his blood, his family gets targeted, but not the police are not going to stop until they have his head, forcing Ned to go on the run to protect his family, making him one of the most wanted criminals in the world.

Thoughts on Ned Kelly

Characters – Ned Kelly is a young Irish man that has always seen his family targeted by the law, he has gotten himself in trouble because of this, which sees him falsely accused and becoming a target. Ned refused to back down from the law needing to go on the run, leading to him becoming an outlaw taking from the rich inspiring the poor as he fights for what is right and his family’s pride. Joseph Byrne is Ned’s best friend, he will stand by his side through his battles, needing to do the right thing. Superintendent Francis Hare is the man charged with capturing the Kelly gang, he doesn’t want to hear the story, he just wants them gone. Julia Cook is an English woman that Ned was working for, she is one of the few that will help him seeing the good in his nature, but being held back by her own family.

PerformancesHeath Ledger does a great job here showing how he wanted to break his pretty boy image, this performance makes this happen with ease. Orlando Bloom in the supporting role is strong without being truly great, while Geoffrey Rush feels wasted, with him being involved but not getting too much screen time, same goes for Naomi Watts, she just doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows the innocent man that gets forced into become an outlaw who becomes the most wanted man in Australia. This story shows how settlers in other countries would always be unfairly targeted by the locals who saw them as threats, how people’s words could create outlaws because nobody would listen or understand the truths within a world. The story is only really told from Ned’s which will always make him look like the innocent man he was, but we do hear and see that most of the group have served time, so they might not be as innocent as they look (this is only from what the film shows, not what I know about the truth).

Action/Biopic/WesternThe action is everything you would expect from a western, we have seen the shooting like always. The biopic does only show one side of the story and it does feel like there is more to tell.

SettingsThe film utilises the location to show how Ned Kelly has to go into hiding and including the showdown.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does seem one sided.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that showed one of the most famous outlaws in Australia, though it doesn’t seem to reach an intensity level that it could have.

Overall: Nice biopic.

The Neighbour (2018)

Director: Aaron Harvey

Writer: Richard Byard, Aaron Harvey (Screenplay)

Starring: William Fichtner, Jessica McNamee, Jean Louisa Kelly, Michael Rosenbaum, Colin Woodell, Erich Anderson

 

Plot: A middle-aged man in a stagnant marriage finds his life upended when an attractive young woman and her seemingly abusive husband move in next door.


Tagline – Danger lives next door.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bland & Forgettable

 

Story: The Neighbour starts when middle-aged married man Mike (Fichtner) gets new neighbours in newlyweds Jenna (McNamee) and Scott (Rosenbaum), it doesn’t take long for Mike to bond with Jenna because of his love of gardening.

With both their spouses working, Mike and Jenna become friends as Mike wants to make sure Jenna is safe after over hearing abusive behaviour in a fight, but does Mike think there is something more between the two.

 

Thoughts on The Neighbour

 

Characters – Mike is a middle-aged man who works from home not giving him much interactions outside of his wife and best friend. When a new neighbour arrives on the scene, he gets a new friend, an attractive younger woman who does share an interest of gardening with him. With a new friendship blossoming, he starts to become obsessed with Jenna wanting to make sure she is safe with her seemingly abusive partner, nearly every scene he does seem like he is very lonely in this world. Jenna is the new neighbour that has been forced to push her job aspirations aside for her husband’s plan to start a family, which she hasn’t agreed to. She befriends Mike hiding the potential abuse she might be suffering from her husband. Lisa is Mike’s wife, she is a teacher and doesn’t give Mike the spark he once had. Scott is the car salesman husband of Jenna’s that has a temper when he drinks, she tries to be open and friendly until things aren’t going his way.

PerformancesWilliam Fichtner is one of the only highlight in this film, he does feel uneasy through each scene. Jessica McNamee does have the look of the attractive neighbour, but the biggest problem with this film holds back the actor’s performances.

StoryThe story follows a middle-aged man that believes his new neighbour is being abused by her husband, needing to decide if he is going to help her or not. This story is very thin, we seem to get caught somewhere in the middle of, there is abuse happening and how does a neighbour go about supporting the victim who is in the denial situation about what is happening. I think everything is played out to be focused on not knowing how to support, rather than deciding on how to support, because by the end of the film very little has happened here and everything just feels like we are watching a socially uncomfortable middle-aged man get a crush.

ThrillerThe film tries to be a thriller with a hint of romance, only it just fizzles into what feels like a soap opera story that just doesn’t give us anything to care about.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings around the two houses, which shows us just how Mike’s mindset it being shown with how he sees both houses situation.


Scene of the Movie –
Late night altercation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Very little seems to happen.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that just doesn’t seem to get going, he has everything needed, it just seems to fizzle lightly before losing all the steam it had created.

 

Overall: Lacklustre Thriller.

Rating

 

 

Nico, 1988 (2017) Movie Review

Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli

Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli (Screenplay)

Starring: Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca, Sandor Funtek, Thomas Trabacchi, Karina Ferandez

Plot: The last year of singer Nico’s life, as she tours and grapples with addiction and personal demons.


Tagline – The last year’s of an inspiration of punk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: The Problem with Biopics

Story: Nico, 1988 starts as we see how Christa Paffgen a.k.a Nico (Dyrholm) starts a tour to bring her punk around Europe, starting in Manchester, she is joined by Richard (Sinclair) who is arranging the tour, as she opens up about her life with addiction and personal problems, giving up her son early on.

As Nico’s tour continues, she learns that not everybody remembers her own music, rather than just focusing on the stuff that made her famous, she also wants to get her son back, which isn’t going to be easy because he is suffering the same demons she is.

Thoughts on Nico, 1988

Characters – Christa Paffgen was known as Nico in the music world, she was a German punk star that did create her own sound, which made her standout, she was willing to take chances with her musical decisions. Like most people in music during the 80s Nico did end up getting herself hooked on drugs which sees her relying on them too much, costing her, her son and most of her friends. Richard is a lawyer leading the tour that Nico is on, he does his best to become friends with her and guide her when needed. Ari is the estranged son that has followed in her footsteps with his own drug problems though he is looking for help with them.

PerformancesTrine Dyrholm is fantastic in her role in the film, she does make us understand the mindset of Christa, along with the troubles she has faced in life. Outside of Trine’s performance everybody else is solid enough without doing that much with what they have to do.

StoryThe story here follows the final year of punk ‘icon’ Christa Paffgen or Nico, as she tries to tour for her fans, no matter how much trouble it might cause the countries around Europe and how she must try to face her own demons. One of the bigger problems with the story here, come from the fact I have never heard of this person, I don’t know her music and by the end of this story, you will feel like you have seen the basic story of every single music biopic, there doesn’t seem to be very much if anything to make Nico standout from any other musician that faced the same problems. Having it set out the final tour is a strong point though, because it shows us just how difficult it can be for a musician to entertain their fans, while not having everything they want in their own lives. Elsewhere this just doesn’t seem to connect in the way other biopic stories have in the past.

BiopicThe biopic side of the films show us just where the final tour would be where the star of the music Nico is struggling to get through with her own problems.

SettingsThe film does create the 1980s settings with each country does work for the film, with certain camera shots even adding to the environment.


Scene of the Movie – The camerawork gives the film an 80s style.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I just didn’t know who Nico was.

Final Thoughts This is a biopic that doesn’t do anything wrong, but it sums up just how difficult it can be to make one, if the person isn’t famous enough.

Overall: Simple Biopic.

The Nightingale (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent (Screenplay)

Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Kaykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie

Plot: Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.


Tagline – 1820’s Tasmania. A young Irish convict seeks revenge.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shocking & Intense

Story: The Nightingale starts as an Irish convict Clare (Franciosi) is forced to work under British Officer Hawkins (Claflin) to pay off her debts, which usually involves cleaning and performing a song to the soldiers, until one day he goes too far by raping her, Clare is desperate to get out of her debt, to which she has paid off, but Hawkins won’t release her.

Confronting Hawkins with her husband Aidan (Sheasby), it leads to Hawkins not getting his promotion and Hawkins makings Clare pay with his men Ruse (Herriman) and Jago (Greenwood). Left completely broken Clare is put in contact with aboriginal tracker Billy (Ganambarr), as she goes in search for revenge on the men that took everything from him.

Thoughts on The Nightingale

Characters – Clare is an Irish convict, she has been released from jail to work off her time cleaning and using her beautiful singing voice to entertain the soldiers. She is coping with her time until Hawkins refuses her chance to have her freedom, being subjected to violence from the soldiers, with nothing left she is hellbent on revenge and isn’t in this journey to make any friends or want anybody’s sympathy, she just wants blood. Billy is an aboriginal tracker that reluctantly agrees to help Clare on her journey, he doesn’t want trouble, he is tired of how the white man has treated his kind, believing at first that Clare is just like the rest, until he learns the truth. The two have some true heart to heart moments as well as having moments which will give you a laugh too. Hawkins is a English officer that believes he should be given a promotion to a vacant captain role, he can’t control his soldiers and his aggression sees him leaving bodies in his path, making him have enemies coming from all directions, as he looks to arrive for his latest position. Ruse and Jago are the two soldiers that are also involved in the attack on Clare and her family, they are just as cowardly as Hawkins.

PerformancesAisling Franciosi gives us one of the most grounded and exceptional performances of recent years, she shows us the pure vengeance her character is going through, right next to the grief she would have experienced. Sam Claflin brings us one of the most horrendous humans to life with his performance, one that will leave almost wanting to hate the actors for his performance being so horrid. Baykali Ganambarr is wonderful too showing us the pain that a generation of people would have suffered through during the events of the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that sees everything taken from her in an act of violence by military men and seeks her own form of revenge. Where this story steps up comes from breaking certain traditions, while the opening actions are always going to be hard to watch and give the motivation required for Clare determination for revenge. Once we get on the war path, this isn’t a calm calculated plan for revenge like we have seen before, this is a cold complete emptiness reaction to the horrors she experiences with her journey being the only time she properly starts to grieve what she has been through. This is a new level of revenge movie that isn’t just revenge on this one action, it feels like a moment that wants to show the people that the white English soldiers walked all over. Wonderful story telling throughout.

ThrillerThis is a tense thriller that shows the path of revenge that one lady and her tracker go on after being wronged by acts of violence by English soldiers.

SettingsThe film uses the settings amazingly to show the world that Clare goes into and how the trackers are the only way to get through the outback in Tasmanian wilderness safely.


Scene of the Movie – The last song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The English Soldiers.

Final Thoughts This is one of the best revenge films you will see, it has a different style to anything you have seen before with performances that are true heavyweight ones.

Overall: Brilliant.