Mandy Review

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Mandy is a 2018 action/horror film starring Nic Cage and Andrea Riseborough.  Nic Cage is Red, a logger living in the wilderness with Riseborough who plays Mandy.  They live a good life until one day Mandy catches the eye of a psychotic cult leader, setting in motion a gruesome revenge story as Red rampages through the cult.

Spoilers

The acting in Mandy is excellent.  There are no cheesy or over the top performances in this one.  My favorite performances are those of Cage and Roache, who plays the cult leader Jeremiah Sand.  Cage delivers a solid performance as he portrays a broken man consumed by a hunger for revenge as he slaughters hellish demon bikers and crazed cult members to avenge his wife Mandy.  There was one scene that takes place in a bathroom that can best be summed up as “classic cage.”  Roache on the opposite end portrays Sand as a manipulative, psychotic fanatic who I’m pretty sure is on LSD the entire time.  He manages to control everyone under him through intense psychological manipulation to the point where they would die for him or sacrifice each other at his will.  He’s also a failed musician who doesn’t take too kindly to criticism, hence his reaction to Mandy laughing when he plays his music as he tries to impress her.

The presentation of the movie is excellent.  Sound is slowed down, distorted and manipulated to help lend to the sinister feel of the person speaking or the events taking place.  For some characters their speech comes off as though they were underwater or as if it were coming from all around you.  The cinematography of this movie is amazing.  Scenes look like something painted by a skilled artist.  The use of color and combined with blackness in certain scenes gives more of a feel for whats going on rather than the actual spoken lines.  The movie also uses good-looking psychedelic animation when showing what a character is dreaming about.  This movie is all over the place artistically but in a good way.

The story is a fairly predictable revenge movie.  Red violently carves his way though all obstacles to get revenge on the man responsible for Mandys death.  There were a couple of more unique parts to the story though.  For instance, the biker gang that kidnapped them for the Sand.  They were supposed to be demons I guess.  They looked like cenobites from Hellraiser and I wish there had been a bit more focus on them as they were pretty interesting.  The movie also had an amazing fight scene with two guys battling it out with chainsaws of all things.  Also towards the end we see imagery indicating that the events occurring aren’t taking place on earth.  Perhaps Red died or he’s hallucinating everything taking place, we did see him use LSD earlier in the movie.

Overall Mandy is a great movie, for certain people.  Its one of those rare really artsy horror films that’s an homage to eighties b-movies.  The story is a predictable revenge flick, there’s nothing surprising about it but the way its told is what makes it special.  The unoriginal story is more than made up for by excellent production and great acting.  Mandy is one of the best horror movies released this year and it’s definitely worth a watch.

9/10

-Andre

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The Thing (1982)

 

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Spoilers

In 1982 at the remote US Outpost 31 in Antarctica, twelve men stationed at the base are suddenly accosted by two men in a helicopter from a nearby Norwegian base.  The two Norwegian men attempt to shoot a dog as they chase it over the frozen valley towards the American camp.  In the ensuing confusion, the two men are killed, leaving the American team puzzled and in need of answers.  They fly to the Norwegian base and discover a massacre, everyone’s either dead or missing, the base is on fire, and they find the remains of a strange creature burned outside.  What follows is a tale of gripping paranoia and cosmic horror that’s sure to entertain.

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They don’t make horror like this anymore.  For starters the tone, its dark and hopeless.  These men are trapped, there is no help coming for them no matter how much they radio for it.  Outside they’ve got temperatures hitting in excess of fifty below.  While inside they have primal fear driven by a creature they can barely comprehend.  A creature that hides within the bodies of their friends, men they’ve known for years.  This causes intense paranoia and mistrust, making the men as much of a danger to each other as the thing is to them.  The thing knows this, and uses this to its advantage as it tries to keep suspicion off of itself, pushing the humans to suspect each other instead.Garry_assures_the_men_of_his_innocence_-_The_Thing_(1982)

This dark and hopeless tone is amplified by the use of music.  From the beginning of the opening scene you’re hit with this powerful haunting score with a thumping bass note that sounds almost like a human heartbeat, perhaps foreshadowing whats to come.  There isn’t a lot of music used in the movie, but when it is used it helps to enhance the tension present.

One of my favorite things about his movie is the practical effects used.  There’s nothing CGI, everything was built ranging from puppetry to stop motion.  The creature designs are amazing.  Take the Norris-Thing for instance, this guy was assimilated by the thing and has a heart attack.  One of the doctors in the group attempts to revive him using a defibrillator.  The thing, unfamiliar with the concept of a defibrillator perceives the shock as an attack and fights back, by opening up Norris’s chest revealing a large mouth that rips off the doctors arms.  This is just one of many amazing designs used by the production to create this story. Vlcsnap-2011-12-30-07h27m52s226

The characterization is another standout for this movie.  Whereas with horror movies of the modern era, you wind up with cheap jump scares, writing that makes no sense, or characters that make stupid decisions just to move the plot.  With The Thing there’s really one jump scare, in the aforementioned part about Norris and his chest mouth.  The characters are pretty smart in this.  They try hard to do everything they can to survive the situation they’re placed in.  There’s only one instance where you could claim that  someone did something dumb and that’s when this guy runs off into the night after someone that he suspects is the thing.  This goes completely against character for this individual as earlier on he was in a position where he had multiple armed men with him yet he refused to confront what he suspected was the thing behind a closed door, wanting to let it freeze to death instead.  The sudden change in character or “stupidity” can be explained by the common fan speculation that the guy didn’t care about running off alone because he was actually the thing by that point.

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The Thing is a timeless movie that only gets better with age.  It is a film that was panned by critics during its initial release, but in the years following has gained the respect that it deserves.  I consider this movie to be the greatest horror movie of all time.  It has everything I want in a horror movie, from the great monster, the effects, the characters and the setting.

10/10

-Andre

Creep 2 Review

Creep-2 posterCreep 2 is the sequel to the sleeper hit CreepCreep 2 picks up the story of the “Peachfuzz killer,” as he takes out another ad for a videographer.  Sara, an up and coming video artist answers his ad and upon their initial meeting he confesses to her that he’s a serial killer.  Sara doesn’t believe him but decides to stay and film him anyway, hoping it’ll be interesting enough to bring attention to her art.  By the end of their day together she laments answering that ad when she realizes she’s made a big mistake.

Spoiler Warning

Creep 2 is similar to the first film in tone, but it doesn’t really have the same slow burn as the first. In this movie we learn more about Peachfuzz, from his past and his motivations for what he does.  Yet he still manages to keep the same mysterious persona even as he reveals details about himself that may or may not be true.  From the start of the film, Peachfuzz is going through a sort of midlife crisis, hes killed thirty-nine people so far and after his 39th kill he feels unfulfilled and believes that he needs to do something spectacular for his 40th kill.  This causes him to have internal conflicts that bubble to the surface of his usually hard to read behavior when interacting with Sara.  Contrary to the first movie where he was disarmingly friendly, he’s erratic and sets off multiple red flags causing Sara to arm herself for protection.

Unlike with his previous friendship with Aaron, Peachfuzz bonds more with Sara as she displays some of the same eccentric behavior that he does.  Tactics that he’d used to toy with Aaron, and most likely victims before him were fairly ineffective on Sara.  Everything he’d do to try and throw her off or cause her unease, she’d respond in kind.  This lead to an interesting dynamic as its still obvious that Sara doesn’t believe him about being a serial killer, but we can see that Peachfuzz is achieving some sort of calm as the day goes on.  This ultimately leads to him deciding that his 40th kill will be himself, as he attempts various suicide attempts, culminating in Sara deciding she’d had enough.  As with Aaron in the first film, Peachfuzz manages to expertly manipulate her back to him and letting her guard down.  Peachfuzz attempts yet another suicide attempt, this one causing Sara to realize he’s been telling her the truth about who he is this entire time.  Following this final attempt, Sara is wounded but manages to escape.

Creep 2 follows its predecessors formula and improves on it.  Although the plot remains roughly the same, he characters are still intriguing and engaging.  I like the development they’ve given to Peachfuzz, he went from being this quirky, mysterious weirdo, to a more complex villain with internal struggles that still leave you questioning his actions.  Is he genuinely trying to find someone to be his companion or is this just how he gets close to his victims?  Overall I enjoyed this movie and can’t wait for the third title in the series.

8/10

-Andre

Documentaries

The buzz around here the past few days was the Blizzard (complete with Thundersnow).  We’ve made it through this one, but more snow is on the way. Stacks of DVDs have been getting checked out in preparation of settling in during this weather.  Recently, I’ve watched a few documentaries that I enjoyed and wanted to share. So, for those of you who like dance, music, wine, and art put these in your queue. Stay warm!

Ballerina (2006) “An intimate portrait of five ballerinas from the Kirov.”  From IMDB.

Blood Into Wine (2010) website Maynard Keenan, Tim & Eric, Milla Jovovich, Patton Oswalt, Arizona, Wine!

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) website Banksy is a graffiti artist with a global reputation whose work can be seen on walls from post-hurricane New Orleans to the separation barrier on the Palestinian West Bank. He fiercely guards his anonymity to avoid prosecution. An eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempts to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. Includes footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work, on walls and in interview. As Banksy describes it, “It’s basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed.” Written by Paranoid Pictures

Recently nominated for Oscar for Best Documentary. To quote my friend and artist, Michael Rank, “That movie singled-handedly made me love AND hate art at the same time.” I completely agree.

The Heart Is a Drum Machine (2009) Facebook page “What is music? Many of today’s top artists and scholars grapple with the question in this cinematic look at a uniquely human obsession. The Heart is a Drum Machine is a new feature documentary film project from the producers of Moog.” From IMDB

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (2005) website Fans will love this part autobiography, part concert.

All of these titles are availble on Netflix streaming. What are you watching? Let us know!

-Sabrina

Ode to Tim Burton

I love Tim Burton.  I’ve been a fan since I can remember. His magical, darkly whimsical movies are beautiful and heartfelt. I can remember watching Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands as a kid. While I enjoyed The Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been an instant and timeless classic for me. (I even had a watch from Burger King back in the early 90s.)

Danny Elfman does a beautiful job on the original movie soundtrack. There are also cover albums including Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas (2006) and Nightmare Revisited (2008). Nightmare Revisited is amazing and highly recommended.  Amy Lee’s cover of  Sally’s Song is heartbreaking while The Polyphonic Spree give a sinister-yet- fun version of Town Meeting Song.  I will have this album on repeat until Christmas. Which reminds me, What do I want for Christmas? Oh, just this Deluxe Edtion of The Art of Tim Burton, however the standard edition would be acceptable. For an enjoyable experience, take a look at his website. You move his character,  Stain Boy, through the Public or Private Gallery.  Since I missed his exhibit at the MoMA in New York, this is as close as I’ll get for now.

Enjoy his short film from 1982, Vincent.

-Sabrina S.