Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confusion Na Wa

Confusion Na Wa (2013)

Runtime: 106 minutes

Directed by: Kenneth Gyang

Starring: Ramsey Noah, OC Ukeue, Ali Nuhu, Tunde Aladese, Gold Ikponmwosa

From: Cinema Kpatakpata

Here's something different from me, a Nigerian movie. Thankfully it's watchable and not bad. I just wish that some things would have been done differently... you'll see what I'm talking about below: 

In my life I have only seen a few movies from Africa. Thus, I figured I should see this film-which I spotted on Netflix Instant-and despite it being on Instant for everyone to see, at least judging by IMDb and this site, not too many people in the Western world have checked this out; it's unfortunate as it's fine. The title, it's based on the Fela Kuti song Confusion, which to me deserves a thumbs up.

The movie follows a group of characters in the span of a 24 hour period. Two disillusioned young men (both can be described as being a ne'er-do-well, and one of them does something very heinous & gross to a young woman) steal the phone of a sleazy guy and they attempt to blackmail him. That's the main plot; we follow other people and see that in the final act they are all connected to each other; it includes a guy who deals with the stresses of his corrupt job, a corrupt police force, a subplot straight out of Moonlight (except that homosexuality is still looked down unfavorably there, as I've heard for years now. Thankfully the movie itself doesn't look down upon homosexuality), people cheating on each other, and more. Thankfully there are a few characters around who at least have some morals.

The movie is definitely uneven and I wish there wouldn't have been that gross subplot, even if it was important for the third act; they should have done something else instead. That said, I can still rate this movie as fine. The general plot could have been done in any country but for me it was interesting to see life in Nigeria, whether it was what people wore, seeing what a decent-sized city there looks like, the music, the beliefs, etc. English is the main language in the country so the dialogue you hear here, it's mainly English with a movie of the local dialect known as Igbo. I only know that the “Nollywood” scene exists but I haven't even really seen clips of too many films from Nigeria so apperance-wise I can't do any comparisons but I can say it looks professional.

In addition, there is some rather amusing (if some rather vulgar) dialogue which made me laugh and there was more talk of The Lion King than I expected; the highlight there was a rather interesting theory of what that film was really all about. If you enjoy dark comedies and/or films where you follow disparate characters over a short amount of time that meet up with each other, this is worth a shot.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Devil's Rain

The Devil's Rain (1975)

Runtime: 86 minutes

Directed by: Robert Fuest

Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Tom Skerritt, William Shatner, Eddie Albert, Keenan Wynn

From: Sandy Howard Productions

This is a film I had seen once before, but that was many years ago. I figured it was time to see this again. I can only rate it as average but at least it has a noteworthy ending. I talk about it below:

This is another movie where I saw it many years ago but hadn't seen it since. Saturday night was the time where I finally gave it a second spin. I remembered that aside from the memorable ending, the movie wasn't so hot. Well, I won't be that harsh this time, but aside from that gooey and melty ending (where they did milk it for all it was worth) the movie should have been better than it was.

The plot revolves around a centuries long battle over a special book which Satanist Ernest Borgnine wishes to acquire, so he could have a lot of power... or something like that. He and his cult do battle with one family, which manages to have Ida Lupino, Tom Skerritt, and William Shatner, who definitely delivers some of his Shatnerian acting skills; the cast has other famous faces, like Eddie Albert, Keenan Wynn and even a small role for John Travolta; it has to be said that it was on this set where he met an actress (I won't reveal her name) who introduced him to... Scientology. Dun dun dun... indeed. Speaking of cults, right?

The effects are nice and there are some creepy moments, but unfortunately despite the nice cast, a spooky setting of the rural American Southwest (actually filmed in Mexico) and some solid (unintentional) laughs-those that watch this, wait until you see what Borgnine turns into-it's not as scary or terrifying as you'd expect from the plot, and it falling right into the Satanic Panic of the 1970's and 1980's. There are better examples of this out there, although the movie is thankfully still watchable and I can't say it's bad... there are just a few slow stretches, that's all. Plus, this movie has another 70's staple... ESP.

While I wish the movie would be more noteworthy than just a gonzo ending, at least it's average.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Planeta Bur

Planeta Bur (1962)

Runtime: 82 minutes

Directed by: Pavel Klushantsev

Starring: Vladimir Yemelyanov, Georgi Zhzhyonov, Gennadi Vernov, Yuriy Sarantsev, Georgiy Teykh, Kyunna Ignatova

From: Leningrad Popular Science Film Studio

This is a random Soviet sci-fi movie I watched on Friday night. It is a fine watch, thankfully. I talk about it below:  

I've known of this Soviet science fiction movie for a long while now, but I finally sat down and watched it last night. It can now be found on Amazon, where it can be rented for only a few bucks. There are also other places online where you can see it... whether you call it Planeta Bur, Planet of Storms, Planet of the Storms, Планета бурь or Planeta Burg (as it's called on Amazon), this movie is most noteworthy to the West as Roger Corman did one of his many tricks to stretch a dollar as far as it can go, and he used footage from this movie to make THREE films... Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, and Queen of Blood.
This movie, the plot is that three spaceships heading to Venus suddenly becomes two after an incident involving an asteroid. This causes conflict. Those that have seen Prehistoric Planet, you know what sights are seen, as PP is an English dubbed version of this, except that they added some scenes of Basil Rathbone and the Russian woman in this was replaced with an American one. Various odd creatures are seen on a world that does look like some odd barren piece of Soviet land (as that's of course where it was filmed) but at least it does look somewhat otherworldly.
I will presume PP has greatly dumbed down dialogue and doesn't have such things as speculation of space travel by ancient civilizations, talk of aliens visiting centuries ago, life on other planets and evolution. Not only are there various adventures on Venus, but the one female character has to stay on the ship and there's a threat of jeopardy because she becomes overemotional about the rest of the crew on Venus because OF COURSE... that was only slightly more surprising than this having Communist propaganda. Somewhat surprisingly, the big wacky robot was actually named John in the original version, too.
The director (Pavel Klushantsev) is little known in the West but aside from the Alien franchise obviously being inspired by certain elements from this movie, people such as Spielberg and Lucas have noted the influence of his work on them. After all, Star Wars was not the first fictional property to have a land speeder. Sure, this movie is kitschy in that 60's sci-fi retro futurism way, but the effects do look good for the time and even with the sexism, it's still a charming flick.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From The Dark

Runtime: 90 minutes

Directed by: Conor McMahon

Starring: Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell, Ged Murray, Gerry O'Brien

From: Abandoned Films/Workshed Films

Yep, I watched an Irish movie today, as there was no better time than today to post a review of such a thing. Thankfully I can say this horror film was fine. I talk about the shamrockin' film below:

What better time to post a review of a fully Irish production, directed by a guy from Ireland and starring a female lead from The Emerald Isle? While I discovered what The Big Bad was beforehand (although it's made clear in the opening scene what it is, so that is no big deal) I otherwise did not know what I would think of this, and it was indeed possible I would give this a low score. I was thankful then that I can say this is fine.
The plot definitely sounds cliché: a young couple are driving in rural Ireland, and the guy is a total tool so he gets them lost and they get their car stuck. They have a real bad night as they deal with a creature; I won't reveal what that creature is except to say it's not a leprechaun.
The movies does some things right. Most of the effects are practical, which I definitely enjoy in this day and age. The creature is mainly hidden in the shadows or obscured. This is not done because it looks bad (rather, it looks decent) but for the effect of atmosphere. I wish that more low-budget horror did things like this so they don't look as cheap as they are, or use horrid CG that looks so fake it ruins your enjoyment. The quite small cast all does a fine job, especially Niamh Algar as our hero, Sarah. I was amused that she was the one who took charge while her boyfriend Mark was a real A-hole and also a buffoon. Sarah deserves a better boyfriend, one who doesn't always yell at her or cuss her out or constantly interrupt her. Anyhow, the movie also has a sort of gimmick and once it starts, the movie finds various ways to keep it interesting so you never become bored.
The film looks fine and there's an appropriate creepy musical score from Ray Harman. While there are some dopey moments, overall this was an enjoyable watch set in the rural Irish countryside and I presume it's not only notably better than a lot of the horror you find on Netflix Instant (where I watched this) but also better than some of the horror that's gotten wide release in the United States the past 6 months or so.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

79% on Rotten Tomatoes (out of 256 reviews)

Runtime: 118 minutes

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman

From: Warner Bros/Legendary

I saw this movie late Tuesday afternoon; a small chain which has locations in the Orlando area had a discount day that day so I saw it on a giant screen for less than 10 bucks. It's not the 1933 classic but I was still pretty entertained. I talk all about it below:

When I first heard there was going to be another King Kong movie, I groaned. I often bemoan the lack of original ideas in Hollywood nowadays. Then, I saw the previews, saw they were doing their own thing and it would be part of a bigger picture, and I was suddenly more interested. While it has its flaws, it is still fun.

I won't say too much about the plot. After all, I kept myself in the dark about it and it wasn't until relatively recently that I even discovered it was set in the early 70's. A random group of people get together to investigate the newly discovered Skull Island, only to find out that King Kong (and other things) live there. There's also John C. Reilly with an epic beard, and a plot that was actually inspired by Apocalypse Now, believe it or not. The characters aren't always the most interesting or layered, but that's the modern Hollywood blockbuster for you; the same goes for the dialogue. That also goes for the mostly obvious early 70's song choices. They (the characters and the songs) were still fine; one character in particular, she really did not do much of anything and I presume there's alternate edits out or an extended edit where she does more.

The talented cast certainly does help. So do the very scenic locations, and all the destruction that happens during the action scenes. Kong not being as realistic as in the 2005 Peter Jackson movie is OK, as he does more destruction here, at least. The climatic battle was pretty great, at least to me. In addition, there are plenty of awesome moments (some of them involving Reilly) that will make for great gifs and images in the future. I enjoyed this movie, although I doubt that Hollywood will ever make a Kong that is a classic like the 1933 original.

I did find out some things about the movie before I went and saw it. There is an obvious homage to an infamous horror picture, and it's not something you'd ever expect in a big budget Hollywood film. I also knew about the scene after the end credits are completed, and what it contained. Even if I didn't... those end credits spoil it anyhow, which greatly amused me. The future will hopefully be promising, and I'll leave it at that. Choosing more out of left field indy directors who you wouldn't expect to helm something like this... that would be a swell idea.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Suspect

The Suspect (Yong-Eui-Ja) (2013)

Runtime: 137 minutes

Directed by: Won Shin-Yun

Starring: Gong Yoo, Park Hee-Soon, Jo Sung-Ha, Yoo Da-In, Kim Sung-Kyun

From: Several South Korean companies

I saw this movie last night. I do not say as much about it below as I normally do. It's sadly a “meh” movie. I can say that it's the sort of thing that borrows a really dumb moment from Quantum of Solace involving parachutes. Need I say more?

As this will expire from Netflix Instant in a few days, this ended up being the South Korean movie I am watching this month. If only I would have enjoyed this more. Many people have compared this to a Jason Bourne movie; truth be told, as of now I still actually haven't SEEN a Jason Bourne movie. The whole “shaky-cam” thing of the Paul Greengrass ones have always turned me off. However, sometime later in the year, I plan on diving into the series and hopefully it's not something I regret doing. Sad to say, this movie also has shaky-cam, and I was not a fan of that. Hopefully the Bourne movies have better storytelling, where things aren't so muddled or confused.

The plot: a special agent from North Korea (Ji) defects to the South; that naturally get the North upset. Plus, Ji is hunting down those who did great harm to his immediate family. There's more but that's the gist. While there's plenty of action to be seen, the way that it's shot is a real downer for me as that made it less enjoyable. I already griped about the storytelling... while there are still exciting moments and even moments that made me laugh, overall I am meh about this. I was hoping for better, even though I had heard mixed things about this from here and elsewhere.

I'd normally have more to say but I think I summed things up pretty well so I'll leave it at that. I enjoy movies from South Korea in general but of course they also have movies that I feel let down by.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Nightlight (2015)

Runtime: 85 minutes

Directed by: Scott Beck/Bryan Woods

Starring: Shelby Young, Carter Jenkins, Chloe Bridges, Taylor Murphy, Mitch Hewer

From: Herrick Entertainment

Would you believe that this movie is from the perspective of a FLASHLIGHT? Yes, it's found footage, but what a twist. It's also not terrible, although I can't even say it's good, which is a shame. I explain all that below:

Late April of 2015, I read an article on a horror website where this movie was mentioned as being released in a few AMC Theatres, none of which were near me. What was said about the movie made me chortle, and as I read more about it, it was true... this is yet another found footage movie set in the woods, although this is different... this was not a movie where we are seeing film recorded by someone with a camera. No, it was a POV movie... from the perspective of a flashlight. I kid you not. Amazing, although it does explain the common found footage complaint of “why is that person still filming?”

The plot isn't too original: a “not cool” teenage girl (Robin) is invited to hang out with a quartet of asstagonists (i.e. alleged protagonists who are actually A-holes) in the woods, where they say that they play “flashlight games”. No, I had no idea what the F that was either. Turns out, it means that they dick around in the woods and act like a bunch of tools. Well, spooky things start happening. It has to be said that Robin knew someone (Ethan) who killed themselves in those very same woods... is it a wise idea to go there?

I wish this movie could have been better, as the general idea was fine-and once you know what it's all about, it's actually a downbeat and sad tale-but it was the execution that was lacking. There actually are some creepy moments throughout; regrettably, it does fall into cliché too often. The Blair Witch Project was an obvious inspiration, to boot. Sure, Robin wants to be “cool” and that means hanging out with massive tools, but that is part of the story... although it can be tough putting up with those A-holes. I was at least amused at how the flashlight managed to switch between different people and that's how we got to see as much as we did.

It's disappointing this isn't something I can recommend, as in practice it's better than all the dreck that populates the found footage genre. It looks fine and I can't complain about the young cast of mostly unfamiliar faces. The plot should have been done differently and better and not be vague at all the wrong moments... and the movie would be more than just something with a wacky gimmick.