Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation (2018) – IMDB

Annihilation Archives - Home of the Alternative Movie Poster -AMP-

I feel Alex Garland, Director and Writer, reached a peak with this one. Something special emerged from the mind behind Ex Machina and Sunshine. He is very underrated in how he handles the content of film. Annihilation is the perfect example. Taken from the works of Jeff VanderMeer, Garland creates a mystical story with dreamlike quality. Collecting images of obscure focus, air full of rainbow hues against a backdrop of lush greens. The book itself is read like a dream, lost, but a dream that demands the reader to stretch their active membranes into a working cluster of incoherent images. That’s where Garland shines in creating a world that is alien but familiar and yet frightening. Adapting only from the first book of a trilogy, Annihilation is a challenge to adapt for viewers and transforming the material into the director’s own, making it the most logical sense and pays off. With an original vision and paying respects to the original material, this is some unique filmmaking.

Long after the credits roll, Annihilation sits with you. Simmers inside your gut. It’s discomforting and beautiful. Mesmerizing and terrifying. In all of my movie watching there is nothing like the images depicted onscreen. It is unique and challenging to witness. Nothing like it has been done before. Not everything is explained which leaves the viewer speechless and bewildered. When I first saw it in theater I had zero idea what to make of what I saw. There was horror and surreal imagery of beyond our comprehension. And that is what makes the film so dreadfully beautiful.

Annihilation relates closely to the book of the same title. As I have read it, both deserve recognition. However, the big screen is what I prefer. For the book was even more hard to grasp. Full of imagery and little dialogue, constantly demanding my attention to form this otherworldly landscape. Garland did a fantastic job, in my opinion, with this current adaptation. As one remained an unanswered nightmare, Garland’s seemed to be a subtle message of cells.

On a grander scale, a comet collides from the outer walls of our mother Earth into a Lighthouse. Thus springing forth a mysterious Shimmer. A glowing dome of rainbow luminescence becomes a fixation of scientists as it grows beyond it’s initial impact. Within this dome, life seems to copy, refract, and combine itself. This creates some beautiful creatures and some horrendous monstrosities. In a way, it’s a cancer. Manipulating it’s environment to mimic life. The comet sets off an ambiguous force that wants to create and make it’s own life. This could be seen as alien. A foreign lifeform taking control of another planet that deems to be the next suiter. Or perhaps mother Earth is a giant cell. The comet is a plummeting cancer or virus. We are merely smaller working cells for Earth. After collision, one cell begins to mimic another, thus bringing a new form of life. In a way, it’s terrifying, and another, beautiful because the foreign object, the Shimmer, replicates Earth life forms as one species. This tells me we are one with Earth, the same, and this is how the Alien life form perceives us as it tries to make something new.

However, this is open to interpretation. I do not believe the author of the original material meant for something deep. When you have Alex Garland behind the project, I would expect something that would require me to think. At least challenge my views.

With one selfish opinion to add, I could not help but distinguish Garland’s style for science fiction and horror to fit perfectly with a new installment in the Alien franchise. His approach to artificial life like his work on Ex Machina would leave Ridley Scott out of the director’s chair. Garland’s brand of horror is dark enough for the corners of space thanks to Annihilation and Sunshine. He contains an expansive exploration many filmmakers do not have the courage, not to mention the imagery to capture on screen. I’d like to mention he’d be a prefect specimen to lead a Bioshock adaption from the videogame. Contains similar genres to tackle like sci fi horror and an incredible story to embark on beneath the ocean.

Annihilation can turn away viewers for it’s ambiguous story and not explaining anything. I like the film for this reason. However, where there are changes to the adaptation some I thought worked while others I thought were down right stupid. Notably a scene which involves our protagonists to take patrol at night in a run down base but ends up disastrous and I simply can’t bear.

When I saw Annihilation in theaters I was mesmerized and horrified. It felt bigger than all of us but on such a small scale. The content is hard to digest and stays with you. I will always remember sitting there feeling low key terrified when an unwelcomed guest ventures into a house in ruin with the scientists tied to their chairs. A feeling of utter hopelessness and fear settles in. The lighthouse is an entire work of art of disturbance and fascination. Annihilation is a unique viewing experience that works as a standalone feature without the other stories in the trilogy being adapted.

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Godzilla (2016) – IDMB

Shin Godzilla (Film) - TV Tropes

Immediately from the fading Toho logo the action begins. We are introduced directly to a disturbance in the water, a small ripple of what is to come. Quick to short introductions, quick reactions to an abrupt danger, Shin Godzilla has us humans franticly clamoring about when this disturbance in the water causes some industrial damage. Not knowing what to make of it, political officials struggle throwing solutions around trying to control and remedy the situation before it worsens. That is until a creature manifests with ungodly destruction. It is then our politicians must decide the fate of the monster and of Tokyo, nonetheless, any vulnerable city ripe for ruin. And if they don’t decide quick, another foreign power house will and the results will be catastrophic.

Shin Godzilla let’s off heat early on, opening the majority of the movie for us to watch and listen to important figures make important decisions. How exactly would scientists and government officials react to handle a situation involving innocent lives that demand a response? Each individual represents a respective department but not so much a character, so they reflect a whole department serving as their character trait. Like how the chain of command is used or a Biologist worrying about his image before making an accusation or an interpreter speaking on the behalf of the President.

Godzilla is horrific and monstrous. Retaining his iconic screech, the new look offers new terror as he sluggishly stampedes through Tokyo. It is epic and devastating to see Godzilla leave destruction around his massive presence. There is something more costly to his devastation this time than other previous iterations. His effect on the city below his feet has more weight and severe consequences. This is reinforced by the awareness of costs of damage and images of innocent people scrambling about. The military goes to great lengths to rid the behemoth. But Godzilla is an intimidating, indestructible force. In contrast, it shows how humans can be monsters as well. To nature itself and to each other. From dumping waste in the ocean to dropping bombs on cities’ foreheads. Almost as if Godzilla is the waking life form for nature to retaliate.

To continue, Godzilla is a natural disaster in physical form. Japan suffered a massive earthquake in 2011 that also cause radiation leakage. In the midst of chaos, people needed to evacuate. Shin Godzilla focused on those who were in charge of regulating the population on information and what is required to do for safety without causing additional harm. But you can’t control chaos. Nor nature. It is then officials realize let go of the textbook, the regulations, protocols, and barriers and let the populace decide what is best to do to survive in a natural disaster.

It is unfortunate we will not be getting a sequel to Shin Godzilla. Thanks to a contract signed for Godzilla being part the MonsterVerse in America and not being allowed to work on any new material for that time period. With this movie being a reboot not sure how Toho will continue their Godzilla legacy especially after the mild cliffhanger at the end. Too bad, I would like to have seen it.

Overall, Shin Godzilla can be a bit overwhelming due to the fast paced story which requires you to read subtitles quickly. It’s better not worrying about who is who first time round as it would just aggravate the viewing experience. I think the movie could have been slimmed down a bit from it’s two hour run time. It seemed they were focusing on the government’s procedures in a moment of chaos to an immediate problem and makes Shin Godzilla a bit of satire. As intriguing as it was, I could have used less of it.

Still, Shin Godzilla remains a stand out in the long running kaiju series.

Underworld (2003)

Underworld (2003) – IMDB

Underworld, attori, regista e riassunto del film

Story. Sexy. Badass. Prosthetics. CGI. Romance. Vampires. Lycans. And Cheese, oh my! Underworld offers it all. When movies were getting good at this thing called computer generated effects this little ticker decided to show real effects in full moon. With an original concept, Underworld still remains fresh twenty years on. Combination of werewolves and vampires having a bloody feud for a number of centuries makes for some amazing stuff and epic storytelling (within the original trilogy).

To put something like this on screen now in 2022 is out of the question. Horror has become artsy and unsettling in atmosphere with no deliberate payoff. Action and adventure have become reliant on older projects from various entertainment mediums like video games and comic books to bring ideas and something new to screen. 2003 was in a prime time of movies containing daring stories that combined what we knew into something new. Like Hellboy (2004) or Reign of Fire (2002) for example were fun innovative movies that made us look forward to the movie experience. With Underworld in mind, effects were used properly and confidently. Currently, movies use CGI over prosthetics more by today’s output and I am hopeful when we see a full werewolf transformation on screen or another satisfying successful effect to see people’s hard work paid off for longevity of a film than a scraper that satisfies a paycheck from a mouse click and drag. This is simply me griping of a standard that I wish was sustained from werewolf greats like The Howling (1981) or An American Werewolf in London (1981). CGI helps, but prosthetics age better.

On to the movie, Kate as Selene is a fire fox. As cute as she is off screen, she delivers a total badass on screen. The world that is built is fascinating and hard to sink in upon first view but satisfying. I can’t help but think Len Wiseman, Director, would have been perfect for a Resident Evil adaptation. With that said, those involved who wrote and starred in the movie really out did themselves. Makes me wonder if they were aware what they were setting up, because the world building is truly unique. Sure we have Twighlight but I see Underworld being the stronger and more satisfying world with a Romeo and Juliet storyline. I suppose i gravitate to the moodiness and bloody action-horror sequences.

Every casted role is perfect. The mood is perfect. The setting is cool. I would like to have had more gothic/dark metal music to fit the tone in the movie but perhaps that could have listed Underworld as an MTV flick.

Onto some other plot points that could be mild spoilers: Amelia is the vampire who is currently living her life and is held responsible for the current reign of the vampires before her next slumber. As far as I know, these vampires who are required to reign are highly experienced. However, when her train is ambushed upon arrival by Lycans she gets a couple deep scratches without a fight and calls it a day. Her reign is over without a fight and she’s stuck with clothing from the Victorian era. Personally I think there should have been a fight squeezed in here at least to prove her authority and power. It could have even remained in the extended unrated cut, which the cut ultimately added almost nothing except for clips that threw off the flow of the movie and a boob tease. A train fight scene involving a single vampire elder and a group of Lycans hellbent on assassination would have been cool and benefitted the cut.

I’ve noticed movies released in this timeline after The Matrix (1999) often seem to require a subway station event. Some 90’s flicks had this occur like Jacob’s Ladder (1990), however, subway’s became the hot spot for tiles to be shot off walls thanks to Mr. Anderson post 90’s. Such movies like mentioned above, became a staple for the early decade of the 21st century. Underworld opens with a subway firefight and sticks with the close hallways and darkly lit rooms. It’s epicness relies on the storytelling and the context of how the story is carried out through the likes of vampires and werewolves.

To me, Underworld was an important movie. It introduced a world of dark gothic horror and drama. A story that told romance and adventure. It’s effect has a better impact than we would like to admit since it’s initial release. Nothing has been like it ever since but on the contrary it has inspired and opened a world that was unforeseen before. With a combination of two nasty monsters having a legendary feud in a classic bout in special bold effects and a story that binds them. I grew up watching this since release and loved it ever since. Nothing has replaced the cheesey dialogue or the acting delivery. Underworld is influential and a highly overlooked piece of movie making by today’s standards.

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Midnight In Paris – IMDB

Prime Video: Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson is fitting as the lost writer wondering the lit streets of Paris as Gil. There is a feeling of connectedness with and a sense of longing as he walks among the wet bricked roads stumbling upon artists of our memory. In a way, Midnight In Paris is Woody Allen having a conversation with himself and the audience. Allen writes about Gil who finds his passion expressing himself through the arts. Not for Hollywood and their scripts but for himself and the love of the arts of a past time. And that’s what Midnight In Paris is ultimately about, the love of the arts.

I am no way educated in all the historical names portrayed in the movie however with what I was given I understood enough of each character/figure that was represented. Whether it was about the Fitzgeralds or the bride-to-be. Gil in short, is a simple man who is simply not fitting in his current era. His era belongs to a simpler time. A golden age of various art forms bursting on the scene in the 1920s. Gil does not feel fit in his engagement with beautiful Inez (Rachel McAdams) or his present time period. He finds solace in his nightly walks, slowly falling in love with a dreamlike memory of what used to be.

It can be difficult to cope with the present so dreaming of the past presents a simpler time. Gil is a dreamer. Midnight In Paris has a magical quality to it but without the wands and is light hearted fun with the mention of rhinoceroses. It has a rather trotting pace of storytelling which perhaps could have benefitted more from a pause or two to help sink in the dream. Like the opening, still shots of beautiful Paris sets the mood and setting. Again, some shots at night of the city glowing among the glossed bricks from recent rains and old buildings filled with stories to pause the moment would help slip into the dreamy city more.

I love how Gil comes to terms with his marriage to truly find himself. Sometimes you must lose yourself to find what you are looking for. And here, he finds interest for another woman, but one who personifies the city, Paris, where he is in love. If she is Paris then Inez is Hollywood.

All the performances are wonderful. And I love movies about writing generally because the writing itself is well done. I find calm enjoyment in watching Midnight In Paris and I hope you do too.

Sound of Metal (2019)

Sound of Metal – IMDB

Sound of Metal (2019) di Darius Marder - Recensione | Quinlan.it

It terrifies me to lose one of my senses. Films like Sound of Metal truly leaves a lasting impression on you, making you re-appreciate what you have not lost. I thank all of those involved. There are a couple family members in my family that are deaf and it pops in my mind every now and then what if I were deaf and had to read subtitles for everything? What if I had to place my hand on a speaker to hear music? Or how will I wake in the morning to my alarm?

Placing myself into shoes without hearing would cause a lot of shock to me. Perhaps a similar reaction to what was displayed by Academy Award Nominated Riz Ahmed as Ruben. He was full of shock and denial from the loss of his hearing. In the midst of a tour for the metal head duo to rapidly losing hearing is a scary thing to behold. For living like a gypsy in an RV with his one and only, Lou, I wanted the best for him, to pull through and make it big somehow. Ruben was looking for a way to reverse the symptoms and take back his old life. Anything was better than living as a drummer who couldn’t hear his own beats. He was determined to find every way imaginable to fix the lack of sound hitting his ear drum. It’s not easy though and there are troubles with finding acceptance. This story is about Ruben finding his peace. And once it is lost, is sound really worth getting back? If by means you force something unnatural to a natural occurrence in life. This could only distort and fragment what you thought you truly wanted. Going back to the life you knew is a dangerous game, especially thinking picking up where you left off will be a cinch. But life rolls on and holding on could be an addiction.

Ruben goes through a spiritual, not a religious, experience when church bells ring to a sound of metal. Serenity is held in absolute silence. And some can not experience that let alone they sacrifice a moment for soothing silence through the ear canal. It is this experience that brings Ruben to complete solace and understanding. To finally sit, no more fighting to the change brought into his life, and so welcomes a new future. A fully new appreciation to the offers of life. Life can still be beautiful. It’s up to how you’re willing to drum along. Rock on.

Drunken Master (1978)

Drunken Master – IMDB

Drunken master (1978) - Yuen Wo Ping | ジャッキーチェン, 映画 ポスター, 映画

Jackie inspired many filmmakers and martial artists alike. Drunken Master is one of those golden examples. Focuses on a young man who is mischievous and arrogant. However, his life takes a round house kick when his punishments catch up to him and his father hires a drunkard to train his son. Drunken Master is mainly focused on Jackie becoming a better man, a better fighter. With the apprentice learning you can’t always get out of a situation by lying or hiding. And you may not be the best at facing your problems either. In a key moment when he becomes demasculinized and must crawl beneath dominance looming over him in order for Jackie to find his humble self. It’s here when he takes pride in learning and overcoming his foes. There are many fight scenes to the point it’s almost exhausting. But it’s quirky, the showdowns have fun with themselves. Never straying too far into the drama. There many jokes jabbing to one other mid fight and many slapstick humor that will hardly leave anyone displeased. And the fights are heavily clever and delightful, encouraging your reaction to be no less than Owen Wilson’s “Wow.” Drunken Master is persistent in it’s entertainment and the humor is highly expressionistic leaving you feeling like you’re not wasting your time watching a quirky kung fu movie. The sequel is just as good.

Her (2013)

Her (2013) – IMDB

Image result for her film

An overwhelming feeling of love. Soft colors stitched into every frame like a quilted labor of love wrapping you with indefinite warmth. Her is an honest portrayal of an emotionally isolated man who finds solace in a computer programming software called OS. In the midst of a divorce, Theodore is having trouble with the confrontational reality of relationships. Promiscuous late night chats with strangers for a quick fix turn awkward and leave a hole Theodore so long desires to be filled. With a turn of chance, he meets a highly-intelligent OS aptly named Samantha. Her sultry voice is soothing to the ear, having me fall in love already.

What makes Her so intense is this finding of love and the excitement once we have found it; the passerby’s momentary interaction in life but seems they can’t fulfill the selfish needs and wants of our physical human box. Those close to us and keep at a distance perhaps of the fear of realizing how real it could be – or if it’s what we really want, and if it was, how it would hurt losing if we were so able to obtain it. Theodore finds ease with his computer counterpart. Samantha becomes this real person we begin to feel thanks to Spike Jonze’s honest and sensible writing. The two bond. Theodore loves the way Samantha brings this new excitement of life and curiosity to his personal life. His loneliness is conquered. Their pillow talks are free and full of humility. His walks, gratified by the pleasure of her voice in his ear and humorous point of views.

With videogames becoming more interactive and setting a broader detachment of this reality, only making things easier for Theodore to form an attachment with a computer. Both put in effort for their relationship, and to great lengths within their capabilities. From acquiring a body to a thing as little as a safety pin. An idea so ridiculous if made fifty years ago. That would just be scandalous and oppose the social norm. But now, Her shows the potential of what is to come and also the boundless form of love. Virtual reality is just another medium love will pour in to. However, everything is brief. We are momentary and encounter our own personal evolution. It’s all up to how you want to do it.

I love the fact you only know the setting is in the near future without any specific dates, and the location appears to have a vague but collective fingerprint. And the high waisted clothing is like a knock off brand of 1950s nostalgia. With Theodore usually sporting a vivid red shirt displaying his vulnerable and sensible side. The music is dreamy and creates an ambience that compliments the diverse color palette, making the viewing a soft clutch of emotions. Her leaves you feeling blanketed and ready for spooning after a heavy fight.

Special mention to the coolest elevator.

Heart and Souls (1993)

Heart and Souls (1993) – IMDB

Rent Heart and Souls (1993) on DVD and Blu-ray - DVD Netflix

Knowing if I were to browse the various mediums of movie streaming, half hour would float by, and I would impulsively hit play to preserve the time I had left in my life. (God forbid I’d be a wondering soul looking for a movie to watch.) Fumbling through my personal collection, I notice two copied movies that have been neglected, trapped in their own individual paper envelopes. One being We’re the Millers and the other titled Heart and Souls. Already had I taken a trip with the Miller’s to score some pot, I went with the latter for not knowing much about it and basically because I haven’t seen it.

So, let’s talk about Heart and Souls. In the most effortless way of describing the story, a man is followed by four ghosts, souls, what-have-you. He is their link to accomplishing the four lost souls’ tasks. Being thirty years later, there have been number of movies like this. Rom-coms, ghostly-comedic-boohoos that have a focus on the dead’s transfiguration or the Man upstairs waving his hand for those in need of a second chance. Down to Earth and Ghost Town come to mind. Interesting to think why this theme is so common. Perhaps we’re not ready to let go. There’s a fear among us where we need closure, can’t leave any loose threads. For those we love or acts we seem to never fully see through.

The tunes featured in this feature blends a feeling of 50’s and feeling comfortably settled within the domain of the 90’s. You have the doo-wops complimenting the traditional 90’s violin-feel-good that you’d expect in a heart warming motion picture that represents the time period all to well. I will say now and may say again, 1990’s movies are the feel good, most wholesome of a generation. Big claim, I know. Considering the full spectrum of a decade, this is the most consistent. Special mention when the group fancies themselves into their own doo-wop of “Walk Like a Man”.

As for stand outs, they all work with one another. Some play harder in the presence of the story, however they all take equal share as the movie progresses. Despite the predictability, Heart and Souls is a fun ride we become invested in to solve the spirits’ last request; as one departs after the next we want these marooned spirits to fulfill their last wishes. Some are more expectant than others, but in the end, you can’t go wrong with a little wholesomeness drizzled with some sap.

Heart and Souls is a charming movie, perfected for the rainy Sunday afternoon. Whether we’re searching for the comfort of unsaid words with loved ones or simply the enjoyment of the afterlife presenting a humorous perspective of our physical lives, Heart and Souls safely delivers what it’s set out to do. With souls having an inner body experience with Robert Downey Jr. and some cheesiness along the way, this turns out to be a heartwarming movie about being with those you love. What else do you expect from a flick from 1993?

Bad Company (1972)

Bad Company (1972) – IMDB

Bad Company (1972 film) - Wikipedia

For a 90 minute movie Bad Company ended too soon. Just as I’m invested in the relationship of the two leads, the film ends. And it is a good ending. This film trotted by without recognition. Makes you wonder why it isn’t as big as other western epics. I reckon it would be the run time, give this an extra 30 minutes, you got yourself a fuller story expanding beyond the prairies. I recommend blowing the dust off this ol’ gem if you like journies without an end, the point of boy to man, and moseying westerns.

Bad Company is an American movie. One of the most American movies I have seen. It renders my imagination what the U. S. of A. forefathers were doing. Serving the blue coats. Gray coats. Living off the land. Contemporary mentalities. Interesting to think what it was like during this historical chapter. Many changes were happening: natives were being forced off their land; immigrants were trying to make a living in the new world; slavery and runaways; then the civil war. The youth who were able bodied were being drafted into serving during the civil war. Some got away, looking for a freer world.

Bad Company focuses on a hand full of youth who decide to run from an ever changing world and its challenges. While escaping one reality they are found with the pleasures and tribulations of another. Freedom was sought after by everyone during this time and to this youthful lot, freedom was riding horseback among the prairies against the wind, away from law and a call to arms. The nature of the story is very human. Considering what you have learned, your strengths, our differences, and how far we’re willing to go to trust each other. Some themes spoken here and ideas are still relevant today.

It’s like the film holds a frame up in time, capturing what it’s like before America became fifty states. The music even fits the time period, with a classic piano sounds contemporary for the time as it cascades through your speakers (sounds almost like Snoopy is going to exit his dog hut). Bad Company just feels real. In the way it handles consequences, youth curiosity and the coming of age. The sequence of events that lead to the end wrap up very nicely. I carry only my imagination on how our leads continue their journey because I wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.

Little Nicky (2000)

Little Nicky (2000) – IMDB

Little Nicky on Apple TV

Eh, not the worst Adam Sandler movie, I liked it, but tries a little too hard. Little Nicky has all your favorite pals here from Sandler’s cinematic family we’ve come accustomed to, even some unforgettable cameos. Devilish gags poking it’s harmless fork at heaven and hell. Not all jokes land however, they run a little too long like Little Nicky’s shoveled face and voice for the entire flick or just some jokes that sizzles out and is just not that funny. With that said, the premise of Satan’s son being sent to capture in a flask two of his brothers and bring them back to hell is fun enough to watch along with the metal-head, masochistic duo, the roommate, and the dog. In addition, some pleasant surprise of cameos.

The romance subplot is nearly forgettable between our repressed, devil spawn and an earthling. It’s uninteresting and kind of distracts from the story, however it shows Lil’ Nicky’s more sensible side (if he didn’t seem sensitive enough already). Still, Sandler shares screen time with yet another beauty and makes for a casual date night flick even if it is underused. It’s pretty much just “there”.

Seeing this was a box office failure, I can tell they put a lot of money into the music, special effects, sets, and including cameos. The special effects shows it’s time for sure, but most money was wasted on the music. They may use nearly five seconds of a song before they cut it for various reasons. For example one scene starts with Foo Fighter’s The Pretender, cuts away to something funny, then begins Pardon Me by Incubus, which quickly burns out. No song here is played along enough to create a feeling, a jam, or entertaining quality to enjoy. I wish they chose a few songs opposed to many and hear them play out respectively.

For fans of Adam Sandler and co, Little Nicky is still an entertaining movie that isn’t the best but is unique in it’s premise compared to Sandler’s other creations. Some gags are better than others like when Nicky is forced against his will and gives a lady the finger and says remorsefully “I’m Sorry”. Or when the Gatekeeper has a bit of naughty time with his hairy friend is wierdly funny. Also, there’s a beloved Chris Farley reference at the end which is funny on multiple levels that made my tummy tickle (God rest his lively soul). I’d likely rewatch flicks like Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore compared to this but still, not bad for casual viewing.