Sunday, 24 September 2017

Review: Nosferatu

Nosferatu is an eerie silent movie retelling of the Dracula story. It was made when the original book as still in copyright and so makes numerous changes to the original story and characters. Not enough, however, for the Stoker estate which successfully sued the makers and the court ordered all copies to be destroyed. Thankfully, they weren't victorious in this respect, and we can still watch this iconic image-laden tale.

I had to laugh when an estate agent turns out to be one of the bad guys who comes under the spell of Dracula Count Orlock. Nothing changes there then!

It does suffer from some of the outside night time scenes obviously being shot in brilliant sunlight although the locations are often evocative. This is a problem Hammer would later share.

The tinting adds some nice touches. For example, there is a nice shot of Hutter going to bed and lighting a candle. The tint abruptly changes from blue to orange adding genuine atmosphere.

But it's Shreck as Nosferatu who really stands out. He gets all of the best trick shots and most thoughtful expressionist compositions - and frankly is one of the ugliest vampires committed to celluloid. It's hard to imagine any teenage girls fawning over him.

The blu-ray from Masters of Cinema makes this near one hundred old film look amazing for its age, and the additional inter titles improve the narrative considerably.

Verdict: Haunting vampire classic.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Review: The Divide

Unremittingly grim tale of life after a nuclear bomb is dropped on New York. Biehn still looks remarkably  youthful as the building supervisor forced to shelter some of the building's other occupants in his well-provisioned basement nuclear shelter.

It probably comes as no surprise that the community slowly descends into a Lord of the Flies/Mad Max/Apocalypse Now madness.  It's a decent and involving addition to the genre.

But it's not without its problems. There are plot holes a plenty e.g. the basement seems incapable of storing sufficient amount of food and water for the occupants' extended stay and it's not clear where they get their electricity. Some plot developments are never satisfactorily explained and only seem to be there to ramp up the tension.  Lastly, some characters are well drawn, while others are completely bland.

Lastly, be warned the cover is hardly representative of what's on screen.

Verdict: OK base-under-seige tale.

Review: The Man Who Saved The World

Story of how one night in 1983, a little known Russian, called Colonel Stanislav Petrov, saved the world from nuclear annihilation.  As he modestly puts it, he was in the right place at the right time.

The documentary covers both the story of how he managed to avoid nuclear war in the face of overwhelming evidence that the US had launched five missiles at the USSR as well his current life including a tour of the US where he is feted by celebrities and his estrangement with his mother.

Modern Petrov comes across as a real life Ove - thoughtful and retiring at times, bitterly angry and rudely suspicious at others - and not without reason.

Verdict: Insightful Cold-War story

Quote: The nourishing power of compliments

I can last two months on a good compliment.

Mark Twain

Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Baby Driver

Self-confident and highly entertaining multi-heist movie.

Elgort as Baby draws comparisons with Schwarzenegger in Terminator as they both play near wordless, and effortlessly cool & quotable, titular characters while others, like Spacey, Hamm, Foxx and James, do the acting heavy lifting.

Particular praise must also be awarded for whomever chose the soundtrack and the editing certain parts of the film to the beat of it.

The film meanders slightly towards the end, but even I still finished it with a smile on my face.

This is how I imagined the Fast and Furious franchise to be like before I watched it - instead of the turgid humour-free zone it actually was.

Verdict: Be my baby.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Review: Jurassic World

Another outing for this missus-pleasing favourite.  It's twenty years since the events of the first movies and Jurassic Park World is thriving. But like any business it's struggling to find the next big thing. The next big thing in their terms happens to be a genetically modified uber-beast.

It is not too long before things go awry and the Swiss cheese failure model comes into play.  I was surprised at the effectiveness of this new outing as returning to the well isn't always successful - especially so long after the last movie. This feels fresh and original and is a strong contender for best of the series.  I liked the sly subverting of the original baddie as well as the various plot borrows - most noticeably - from Aliens.

Verdict: Old magic recaptured.

Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Quintessential fantasy explorer adventure sees action-archaeologist, Indiana Jones, on the trail of the ark of the covenant.  It's a beautifully constructed blockbuster which taps into the 1930s serials with regular cliffhangers, evil Nazis and Egyptian mythology.

Ford is well cast as a brainy everyman hero - not too beautiful or heavily muscled - and brings a weary seen-it-all before wit when dealing with the various obstacles he encounters.

Verdict: Perfect adventure movie.