Gold – Movie Review

TL;DR – Brutal, uncomfortable, and completely compelling.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan subscription that viewed this film

Gold. Image Credit: Stan.

Gold Review

When you are creating a film that wonders into the Survival genre, there are two very different ways you can engage your audience. The first is through shock, a sudden event or trauma like a bear attack. Or you can slowly pull everything away from people like a tide coming in or an approaching winter you are not ready for. Today we look at a film that explores the latter, but instead of the chill of winter, we get the brutal, unrelenting heat of the desert Sun.   

So to set the scene, some time, someplace, not far from now, a man is sitting in a train carriage boosting a ride in cargo. Man One (Zac Efron) has the clothes on his back and not much else as he walks out into the desert heat at Greenview Outpost. He is heading to the compound in the restricted Eastern Territories and gets a lift with Man Two (Anthony Hayes) through the inhospitable landscape. Man One goes off to take a leak after the car blows its radiator, which is when he spots something shiny in the desert, a gold nugget.

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Finch – Movie Review

TL;DR – An emotional journal to find safety in a world that has fallen into disaster.     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this film.

Finch. Image Credit: AppleTV+.

Finch Review

One genre I have always found interesting is that of the lone survivor. Why they were left alone could be from them being forgotten, marooned, left behind, well, anything. Fighting against the elements and even time to survive. Indeed, Tom Hanks is famous for playing a similar situation in Cast Away, so you knew it had to be an exciting premise to get him back into this realm.

So to set the scene, in the not-so-distant future, a solar flare wiped away Earth’s ozone layer exposing the globe to a massive surge of radiation and also setting off a global EMP. This baked the planet, killing nearly all the plants, animals, and of course, humans. One of the last people alive is Finch (Tom Hanks), who has survived in St Louis in the basement of the robotics company he worked at. He has one mission, to finish building Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) an android, so there would be someone to look after Goodyear/Dog (Seamus) after he was gone. Things were going well until a supercell arrived. It will last for over 40 days, 40 days too long. So they all have to make a trip across the country to safety.  

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The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s Carnage Through Italy Mapped

TL;DR – We map the carnage The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard takes across Italy

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard). Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

Map-It Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard –

When I sit down to watch a film, I don’t always think, “How can I map this?” However, there are some films that, in the first few moments, I get a gut feeling that I am going to need to take notes because we are going on a wild ride. One such film that had this effect was the recent Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

This film starts in Capri and then goes on a reign of carnage across the Italian Peninsular. It is also one of the easier maps to make because the movie was (usually) quite clear as to where all the action is taking place. There is only one spot on the map Trieste, where I have had to guess because they filmed it, but they don’t say that in the film. Please enjoy the map below, but one quick warning shows the whole movie, so there will be some [SPOILERS] below.    

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Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie – Movie Review

TL;DR – An improvement on this style of story, but an odd juxtaposition holds it back.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this movie.

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie. Image Credit: Netflix.

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie Review

 

One way that Netflix has tried to differentiate itself in an increasingly bifurcated market has been the implementation of ‘choose your own adventure’ films. These echo back to an old style of storytelling, but while the nostalgia has been interesting, none of them has been able to nail the technique so far. However, if anyone has a shot at it, it would be Bear Grylls for the entertainment factor alone.

So to set the scene, we open in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, where we find Bear Grylls (Bear Grylls) running from a lion only to reach his car to find it locked. We then jump back earlier in the day to find Bear inspecting a fence to see that something had broken through and that the fence that should be electric is not working. You have to fix, the power, find a baboon, and stop a lion all before a storm comes in.

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First Blush – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film looking at people trying to find other people to plug that hole in their lives   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

First Blush. Image Credit: Gravitas Ventures.

First Blush Review

There has been a lot of reframing of traditional relationships in the post-modern era. However, when cinema has started to explore this realm, it rarely explores this world’s realities. Today we have a film that gives it a solid try if nothing else.

So to set the scene, Nena (Rachel Alig) and Drew (Ryan Caraway) are a mostly happy married couple living in Los Angeles. While everything is good, it does feel like they are sleepwalking through their lives until one day Drew plans a surprise birthday party for Nena with her annoying friend Carrie (Jordee Kopanski). The party is a bit rubbish, but while they are there, Carrie runs into Olivia (Kate Beecroft), and soon their worlds come crashing together.      

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Awards – Tension That Kept You On the Edge Of Your Seat In 2020!

Well we have looked at Emotion, and then swung wildly across the spectrum to Fun, and now we are completing that trifecta with looking at Tension. Tension is one of the most challenging facets of filmmaking to pull off because it requires the script, direction, acting, and editing to all work in tandem to evoke the perfect pace. If just one part of that group misses then an essential part of the film falls apart.

In 2020 we continued to see some excellent use of tension used to build mystery, or to be the harbinger of the coming dread, or even the ticking clock of inevitability.   

So without further ado, these are the moments of tension that kept us on the edge of our seats in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question.

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Awards – The Costumes of 2020 That Made Us Say ‘Hot Damn’

You can use many techniques to help build your world, ground your setting, or give dimensions to your characters. You can use music, you can create elaborate sets, but one of the best ways is the costumes you make.

People instantly judge a character within moments on the screen, and the outfits are an essential part of that first impression. More than this, you can also use costumes as a way for storytelling, what do they say about this world, what do they say about how a character is progressing. 

Costumes can build worlds, tell us details we can only see, but also they can make us say ‘hot damn’ look at that beading on that dress, that must have taken hours to do. So without further ado, these are the costumes that made us say ‘hot damn’ in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, please click on the banners to be taken to the full review.     

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Ava – Movie Review

TL;DR – A lacklustre film from start to finish   

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Ava. Image Credit: Vertical Entertainment.

Ava Review

When you see a film with an extraordinary cast that has been amazing in similar movies and with a strong premise, you expect a lot when you click play. Well, you at least expect something. However, today we are looking at a film that takes all that potential and does precisely nothing with it.

So to set the scene, we own with “Brandy” (Jessica Chastain) picking a British businessman Peter Hamilton (Ioan Gruffudd) from the Paris Airport. But as we soon see, Brandy is not just your average Uber Driver doing some flirting on the side. For Brandy is actually called Ava, a hired killer and Peter is about to have a horrible day. After the mission, Ava returns home to Boston, but all is not well as Management is now having her watched. Now before we dive into the film proper, it needs to be said that this was a film that was written by and originally meant to be directed by someone who has plead guilty to common assault with regards to his then partner.                           

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Marital Problems – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film full of awful people being awful to each other   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Marital Problems. Image Credit: Reel Merit Films.

Marital Problems Review

Some films have a very grand scope darting from place to place, or even planet to planet. Then there is those film that are more intimate, sometimes staying in the same location for the entire runtime. Both of these approaches can work for your narrative if you structure them well. Today we look at a film that follows the later, in a world that may not be what it first seems.

So to set the scene, we open in on Ian (Callum Gault) as he lies in bed nursing one hell of a hangover when a bang on the front door wakes him from his stupor. At the front door, is McManus (Neil Goldsmith) a handyman who is here to fix the place up for the landlord Devon (Jonathan Hearns). Why is the home being fixed up, well, Ian has not been playing the rent, and he is about to get kicked out. It is at this moment of despair when an agent of chaos appears in the form of Clarke (Nick Capper).

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The Wanderings of Ivan (La Balade d’Ivan) – Movie Review

TL;DR The Wanderings of Ivan is a cold look at a real problem shown through the eyes of an excellent performance by Aram Arakelyan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Warning – Several scenes contain flashing lights.

The Wanderings of Ivan (La Balade d’Ivan). Image Credit: NQV Media.

The Wanderings of Ivan Review

Homelessness is one of those issues that is a larger issue in modern societies, but we tend to push it aside and not think about it. But what happens to a person when they are cut off from having enough to eat when there are not avenues they can use to get out of where they are? Today we look at a film that is exploring this critical issue.

So to set the scene, Ivan (Aram Arakelyan) lives rough on the streets of Paris. To survive, he begs on the street and steals leftovers, but even that is not really enough. He tries to find work or a safe place to sleep but more often than not ends up sleeping rough each night with only a couple of Euros to his name. After a while, he finds a secluded wooded area on the outskirts of the city where he is not the only one without a home.  

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