The Canal (2014)

The Canal (2014) – IMDb

The Canal is one of those effective mood pieces. It’s stuck between horror and thriller about a man uncovering a ghostly mystery from a century ago. I would like to keep this review short for I feel this is a movie I don’t want to give too much away. I overlooked this movie countless times since the original cover on Netflix suggests a B movie that was unsatisfactory and boring. Although, some reviews claimed this was rather good, so i took a risk in playing this film and sacrificing 90 minutes of my time. The Canal is deviously unexpected.

The story is somewhat a cliche in the horror/thriller department but it definitely makes up for brood atmosphere and a terrifying conclusion. Without trying to give too much away, this movie is in close relation with the movie Sinister. I found horror movies to either end not well and obscure or really well but either tragically or with contentment. This is the latter, but it left me jaw dropped and I had my hand over my mouth. This is not common in my movie watching, believe me. The movie is slow but the unexpected graphic scenes and the mystery will keep you hooked. There are no real jump scares but this is where the atmosphere and eeriness creeps in. Towards the second half, it just becomes increasingly unnerving.

Like I said, I did not expect this Irish film to be as effective as it was. When you think you have it all figured out, you get hit with a curve ball. The Canal is subtle, even in the writing. I enjoy finding movies like this, from which ever continent it’s from. The film’s ending, it left my hairs sticking up, and if a movie has that kind of power then I recommend this to be viewed, by horror fans, thrill seekers, mystery hunters, or loners looking for a good scare sitting in the dark like I was tonight. 

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979) – IMDb

A magnificent film. After just watching Apocalypse Now I still have a profound feeling of being lost in a cruelly insane, dark but beautiful world. Wonderfully shot by Francis Ford Coppola and relishly written. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen with mysterious amazement. I have never seen Vietnam filmed so beautifully and so dangerously. This movie will stand the test of time for it is timeless. One generations will come to watch and seem familiar with because of so many other movies it has inspired today, but still will be viewed as it is iconicly fresh, as in with it’s own zest that can not be coppied. It is brutal, raw, a drug trip down the river hell.

There are some things about this movie you simply can not put down on paper. The imagery will stay with you long after the credits roll. I’m not talking about the shoot outs and the gun-ho scenes at the beginning, for me, it was the smaller imagery that took up a small bit of screen time like an airplane facing nose down in the river and the tail sticking straight out of the water as our unfateful crew boat beneath it. The writing as well is vivid and engrossing, it’s what captured my attention at first. When Willard hears Colonel Kurtz for the first time, and you get the first sense of the guy, it’s over a tape recorder and Kurtz says: “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.” This is but one example among the single lines, conversations, and monologues that truly stand out and brings the film to another level. i would to make a list of the lines that most impressed me but I believe that will dull the effect of it and will be too long of a list, with the exception of: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The story of Apocalypse Now is a simple one: Capt. Willard must find a rogue soldier, Col. Kurtz, who has gone mad deep in the jungle and he must terminate Him. The lengthy movie (not taking in account it’s extended Redux) is a build up to the final half hour of the intimidating presence of Marlon Brando (Kurtz). He is sly and patient, smart and unpredictable. Kurtz is no ordinary man, he is a soldier who has been awarded many colors and stripes. However, he has reached a breaking point of going geniously mad and becoming a God among the locals and a few mindlessly lost Americans. One of which is Dennis Hopper who is great fun to watch as the photojournalist. When Willard arrives to Kurtz’s domain, he meets the Photojournalist who speaks about Kurtz on another level that makes it more personal and psychological; you learn more about this mad man and what he’s capable of. You start feeling more anguish and a lob in your throat. You start to wonder as Willard does to himself ‘how is he going to confront him? What is going to happen?’ The Vietnam jungle itself is a character. It boasts fear of the unknown into soldiers’ hearts; a labyrinth of lush trees and bushes leading to impending doom, and a hot attitude that will influence the strongest of soldiers to do unspeakable atrocities. Staying in the boat on this death trip away from the trees will not save their souls.

Apocalypse Now takes you on a journey that showcases war of men and horror. It is not easy as the dread sinks in from the first scene and doesn’t let up, dumping buckets as the minutes go by. Every image has its on spectacle and epic beauty. I remember movies on how they make me feel, and this one is worth remembering after all these years since it’s release and more years to come. The moments that happened prior to the conclusion are just as important. It is shot with patience and great magnitude that will leave you speechless after venturing into the Heart of Darkness.

Identity (2003) – IMDb

via Identity (2003) – IMDb.

It was around my 4th-5th grade year when Identity came out. Once it was released on home video my dad rented it and one night I really wanted to watch it. This was during the time when I was exploring all sorts of movies, expanding my knowledge on such great films. After watching Ghost Ship (not so great) and found it a little scary I thought I could watch anything. So late one night my father placed the movie in and before pressing play he says: “If you have any questions, save it for after the movie”. Unfortunately he fell asleep and I was left mesmerized, scared, and contemplating the whole story with questions raining in my head. I went to school the next day and heard a friend say she watched it the night before as well, I sprang into action and proclaimed “wasn’t it awesome?! What did you think?” She didn’t understand it and so she didn’t like it which baffled me. Never have I seen a movie or experienced one like this at that time in my life; this movie marked my love for psychological movies.

The story starts with one small act of an event that causes a chain reaction for several strangers to confront each other in a small, deserted motel in the middle of a storm out in the middle of nowhere. But the weird starts happening, people start dying, one by one. Tension rises with clues and twists that makes everyone a suspect making your head tumble like in the drier just to figure it out. Identity even points the finger for you, playing with your head. You will keep guessing until the very end and questioning what really is going on. Is it supernatural? A dream? Or just some trick? Some will probably figure it out beforehand but it’s fun ride none the less, since something is always going on.

John Cusack did an okay job as the limo driver, it isn’t his best work by far. Although, I’d enjoy to see him in a horror flick; he has a dark, curious presence that fits. Ray Liotta did a fine job as the cop, as well as John Hawkes as the manger of the motel from *southern accent* Mulberry.Gary Busey was convincing as the con-man and Amanda Peet’s acting felt a little forced but was good. The motel itself, though, is a dark, suspicious place. A place that you would dream about and wouldn’t want to get lost in, in it’s cold and wet, creepy atmosphere. The motel is shot beautifully by James Mangold who was enthusiastic about this moody, mystery project.

Identity is a great psychological thriller with elements of horror. It’s fun the second time round watching it, but after that the experience wears down, unless you watch it with someone with fresh eyes just to see how they take it in.

The Babadook (2014) – IMDb

via The Babadook (2014) – IMDb.

What do you do when your kid asks you if you want to die? Especially if it’s coming from your son who no one wants to be around with. Even you start wishing your boy was normal. The Babadook is a very well written boogeyman tale that delves into your psyche and hits the dark corners of your mind and emotions you wouldn’t expect it to do at first sight. Firstly, you have a single mother, Amelia, played wonderfully by Essie Davis (where’s the nomination?) who works at a retirement home and takes good care of her seven year old son. She is in need of help, mostly due to the absence of the affectionate touch from a man in her life and sleep depravity. Someone give this woman some chocolate and a day off. Amelia lost her husband on the day of the birth of her child, Samuel. Samuel is a troubled kid who fancies magic and plays with his imagination. But when is it ever imagination? He takes up arms in defense from this dark force and, like his father, speaks his mind, talking about the monster where ever he goes, even scaring kids his age. The crazy talk is heightened to a new level when Amelia says Samuel can choose a story to read before bedtime, of all stories he chooses The Babadook. The words and the pop-up pictures are no less than unsettling and peculiar. Where did this book come from? Like the film itself, the book is draped in black and grey, paling colors making it feel ghostly and depressing. She says to choose another book but Samuel wants to keep reading the story he has chosen. From here, the weird begins to escalate. Amelia even rips up the book and tosses it. But after three heavy knocks at the door, the book returns at her door step. She turns for help from her sister, Claire, but she wants nothing to do with her, especially Amelia’s son who talks about a monster and unintentionally hurts Claire’s daughter. Good going. More sleepless nights occur, more encounters with the boogeyman. Amelia looks to the police to report someone stalking her and her son, but she knows they would write her off as crazy. The stress level starts to wear down on Amelia and you see it, you even start to experience it. My head felt toyed. Is this real or is she just experiencing a nightmare? She begins to mistreat the boy (oops, I said it) like her psyche takes a sinister turn. It’s something you wouldn’t hear her say or see her do, it’s just not her, not what a mother would do.

The story is similar to the likes of Insidious and many other scary movies involving a troubled kid and a dark spirit who wants to house your body. What makes this different though is it’s approach. Even though there are some good creepified moments, this movie isn’t all that terrifying. It was more psychological than expected and focused on family values. There’s a lot of build up, too, which made it more of a drama. The ending leaves you a bit unsatisfied seeing that the first 3/4 of the movie promised a strong conclusion. You will be scratching your head. Have you figured it out?
I plan on adding this film to my collection. The Babadook will hook you in to it’s dark atmospheric tale. The build up helps you understand Amelia and Samuel’s situation which is why you care and makes moments more stressful. The mother even becomes scary at a point, but I recommend you watch this just to see how The Babadook stands out from other horror gems. By the way, if you hear three knocks, don’t let it in.

Till Human Voices Wake Us (2002) – IMDb

via Till Human Voices Wake Us (2002) – IMDb.

Till Human Voices Wake Us I found while binge looking on Netflix for movies to watch in the future. I knew nothing about it except Guy Pearce’s character, Sam Franks, meets a woman who reminds him of a lost lover from the past. Having Helena Bonham Carter and Pearce attached to the feature I was interested in watching it.
A small Australian film that’s sad but sweet. Movie kicks off with Sam visiting his father in the hospital who passes away while during a game of chess. His father’s wish was to be buried in Genoa, Australia. Sam is not comfortable with the idea because it’s where he lost his girlfriend and buried the thought of it since, but it’s dug up. On the way to Genoa via train, he drops his book and loses his place. A woman picks it up, Ruby (Carter), and finds the place where he left off and hands it back to him. You don’t see Ruby again until later that night when Sam is driving through a storm and sees a woman standing on a bridge about to commit suicide. She jumps in the water and Sam is quick to react and saves her. Upon taking her in his care, she doesn’t remember a thing. Thankfully she’s not crazy or else this could have easily been a horror, having said that, this is hardly an R rated film. This is more PG, anyways, Ruby decides to take a walk outside. Mostly shot during one night, Ruby and Sam embark on a journey that covers the footsteps of the same night the tragedy occurred. From a dance hall to finding a dead bird under a rock seems something like witchcraft and we watch Sam stunned at the turns of the night. Especially when they decide to play a word game like Sam and Silvy, deceased girlfriend, would and repeat the same words. Coincidence? You can’t help but feel for Sam. He’s a man who decided to not have reaction and hold back his feelings for he some what blames the death on himself. We want him to love again, we want him to break out of the unemotional deadlock he carries.
Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter have great chemistry together. Helena is very lively and talkative, while Guy is more restraint and cold. There are some nice conversations to listen to that are accompanied by some good chuckles. The flashback sequences to Sam’s younger days flow nicely with the movie and help explain the story as it unfolds. There are definitely deep themes flowing through the film and are not hard to miss. Ultimately, it’s about a man who must dare to relive his past and only then he is set free. A beautiful movie but something melancholy lingers over the whole thing. Recommended for a slow day or for something to think about.
 “If moths are attracted to the light, why don’t they come out in the day?”
” …guess in the day, light comes to them.”

Taxi Driver (1976) – IMDb

via Taxi Driver (1976) – IMDb.

taxi_driver

I had the intent of watching Taxi Driver as a psycho drama with a man killing people but what I got was probably one of the most sanest people who observed his surrounding and was misunderstood. When you’re alone, in silence, you create ideas and moments that possibly could enrage you. Or maybe you just think of how messed up your country is and want to flush it down the toilet. I’m not saying I think of throwing on a cape and becoming a hero but loneliness is a tough thing to tackle. Taxi Driver is a film that took me by surprise; I don’t usually watch a popular-household-movie-title because I’ve read so many reviews and heard so many great things about the movie that I decide to watch a lesser known movie. But this one, not at all as I expected. I knew I would be watching a character study but not one that expressed itself like the way it did. Perhaps I didn’t read enough reviews; this movie, however, fits well with my collection.

Small on story, top class acted and heavy on a character driven film, this has become a favorite of mine. This is a story of a man, Travis Bickle (Robert Deniro) who is lonely, he can read people, he knows himself and feels the energy of emotions. In his world, he knows what’s right and wrong, or to what he believes. There is no one else, except this beautiful blonde he has kept an eye on for quite while, long enough to know she is lonely and unhappy even though she is surrounded by a crowd of people, and a goofball coworker. After Travis stops being a creep and gets up to ask her out, a magnetic bond occurs. He then introduces her to the world he wish he knew and the world he lives in. She, just like the cold others, scoffs and walks away without a word to discuss the meaning between their relationship just because she didn’t understand and didn’t like what she saw. Afterwards, is a sequence of events that shape him more and more.

You watch Travis live as a loner. He works nights as a cab driver and takes supplements to stay awake. Sometimes coffee, yea, and he talks to fellow nightshift cab drivers but not so much. They’re just there, really. Wizard tries to give insight but both him and Travis exchange what they really mean unclearly to each other. Whenever Travis reaches out, its like he forces himself back into loneliness. A lot of it is the job he carries on his shoulders. An ex-marine working for any hours plus holidays all week long, just trying to keep busy. There are many great scenes in this movie, some are more subtle than others. Like when Travis sits outside a building in his cab and a policeman comes and tells him to move away because it’s a no parking zone as the window is being rolled up; it’s like his glass window separates his reality from their’s. I recommend you watch the special features as well, it gives a very good insight on the film.

I highly recommend you watch this tour de force, noir film. I believe everyone could relate to this film and learn something from it. Some distant than others but even they can grasp the concept of being alone. I would like to thank my dad for offering this movie to me awhile back for my pleasure of viewing but I’m glad I waited and procrastinated watching other movies, after the years I found great appreciation for this film. Sometimes you have to wait and let time decide. Two of my other favorite flicks are About A Boy and Big Lebowski, not at all dark or noir-ish as Taxi Driver but they are centered on lonely people who stood up for something. With that to the side, this is a really well written film. This is an important film in cinema history. It’s a character study that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It should be understood and observed, much like Travis, maybe people will understand one another better. The flow in the film is perfect, the shots are colorful and engaging. I loved the jazz soundtrack throughout the film and I love anti-hero stories and this fit the bill. Movies that feed my mind and soul are devoured by me. Taxi Driver is an experience I won’t forget and I will be watching this again soon. Enjoy.