Spring (2014)

Spring (2014) – IMDb

From the minds of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (Resolution) comes a fantasy tale of love disguised as a creature feature. Spring is a different movie and is similar to Richard Linklater’s talkie, but romantic Before trilogy with a monster twist. The movie is set on the coast of Italy, a beautiful setting with a labyrinth of brick roads. Age old buildings tower above the white cliffs overlooking the ocean with a taste of vino and smell of greenery in the air. This is where our protagonist, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), escapes from drama in the U.S. of A. after his mother passes, and he loses his job. He arrives in Italy and makes some quick acquaintances who help him to a few drinks and some fun.  Suddenly, Evan meets this beautiful ‘goddess’ of a woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker).  She is beautiful. If she told me she was a 2,000 year old mythical goddess, I would believe her. Louise is a man’s fantasy come true, inviting Evan to come away with her when they first meet. As easy as he could take her up on this offer, he simply wants to sit down and have a drink with her, get to know her more.  However, love has a way of ‘transforming’ things.

Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker have wonderful chemistry. At first, you can sense Evan wants this girl, whether it’s lust or love; and you can sense Louise being distant with him, but still likes his close company. The dialogue between them feels like we’re listening in on a conversation between two complete strangers who found a connection. The writing is authentic and quirky, and each character has their own characterized way of speaking, even the smaller roles. Spring is a slow paced movie, but is still ever so engrossing with the dynamic writing, beautiful scenery, and the unfolding of the mysterious, pretty lady’s dark, inner secret. The move is not scary, naturally. It has horror elements and themes, and the climatic monster reveal is both shocking and peculiar.

I blindly purchased Spring due to it’s interesting setting and plot, and after from what I heard, and instinct was telling me, we found each other at a local Best Buy as fate has brought us. I enjoyed this movie and the connection between the two leads. Lou Taylor Pucci is a well rounded actor. I have seen him in a few flicks now and find find his talent underrated. In Spring, he is charismatic and very likable as Evan, even funny; same goes for Nadia Hilker’s role. Although, I watched a special featurette where the makers felt the ending was premature, so they went out and shot an extended ending with their iPhones. To be honest, I was happy with the original ending and thought the new one turned Evan into an unlikable character.

Anyways, Spring is a unique film. It’s labeled horror, but it’s different and not what you’d expect. If you’re expecting something like Species or The Howling, then this might not be for you. If you want something fresh, change of pace, like HoneymoonI do recommend it as a date night movie. Spring stands out from the rest of the body horror/creature feature flock, possibly becoming a cult classic.

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The Raid 2 (2014) – IMDb

via The Raid 2 (2014) – IMDb.

Like the rest of the audience who has seen The Raid: Redemption, I was excited to see the sequel The Raid 2: Berandal. When I first found out it was showing at a local theater in my territory for a limited time with few showings to offer, I just had to get a ticket. I walked in the dark, empty theater which the movie has just begun and grabbed my seat, looking at the screen the whole way. Once I sat, a voice to my left says: “out of the whole theater you had to sit next to me?” I didn’t even notice someone was there, the man moves and I say “my bad”. I just wanted to see this film with the best seat. This epic, bloody and complex film Gareth Evans, writer and director, originally conceived before The Raid 1.

The first movie is much simpler than the second. It was straight forward with amazing fights and stunts. The sequel takes off just moments after, already introducing a major villain. We’re then brought to the attention our hero from the previous movie, Rama, that he’s being sent in to the underground world by a secret organization who seeks out corrupt cops. He is to help a dangerous gang member, Uco, who is in jail and earn his trust so he is accepted into their clan on the outside. Once he earns their respect and trust he is to cut the head off the snake so the gang wars will come to an end. But it becomes more than what Rama was expecting, he is caught into a web of distrust, betrayal, and an all out war. The beginning of The Raid 2 is a bit confusing at first, you’re introduced to a number of characters and backgrounds. It’s a little hard to keep up because of the pace it is presented but eventually you move on after the first half hour with a deadly brutal fight scene in the muddy courtyard inside the jail.

The movie doesn’t kid around when it comes to violence, neither is it shy. It is raw and can rival the darkest of horror. It’s an all in your face, no holds bared, adrenaline pumped two and half hour movie. I felt bruised and exhausted after the first movie which was an hour shorter; this one has more to offer as to do with the storyline, which is somewhat reminiscent of The Godfather series. The Raid 2 is relentless in depicting violence but the choreograph is superb. Most notably is the kitchen scene which is Gareth’s favorite, and mine, too. You can feel the momentum and impact in all the fight sequences, they have a way of feeling dynamic. No fight scene is used just to have a fight, everything has lead up to that point where there is reason to fight and makes it feel that more impactful. Much like Gareth’s directing which is also dynamic, it flows with the story and movement of the characters like a punch to the face or grinding a head to the wall. I do have one suggestion, or minor complaint, with all the brutality in the air I was looking for a different fight scene to change pace. There is a scene which leads outside from a club to the snowy streets. The tempo is slowed for a little and our character is faced with another villain, The Assassin. The snow is falling, you still have the dark atmosphere, but the brutality persists. I was hoping for this scene to have a beautifully crafted fight in the snow, without an overdose of blood shed and a ballet like fight. It may sound corny but wish Gareth switched the fighting style. A death like that should be beautiful not torn away meaninglessly. Although, the car chase sequence is awesome and increases the heart rate and is well shot.

Other than the Assassin, two icons have emerged here as if ripped from a comic book. You have a deaf mute, Hammer Girl, who wields two hammers and delivers heavy damage. And her brother Baseball Bat Man who carries a bat and his trusty baseball. The two together are the most interesting characters here who could have their own movie covering their background. Which Gareth Evans did discuss during the awkward Q&A in the special features. Either way, their child-like manners don’t get in the way of them hammering down or hitting their victim from afar with a baseball.

There is a lot that happens in The Raid 2 , although a little confusing first time round, it has a good storyline with unforgetful fight sequences. It’s either just as good as it’s predecessor or better, up to you, but I think it’s just as good. Gareth Evans has filmed a very dynamic and visually artistic action-gangster-epic. He has kept most of his crew from his past couple projects; you will notice stuntmen and characters reprised, and some even from his segment in V/H/S 2 (which was quite shocking and down right creepy). I like it when sequels are different from the first and can still entertain, keeping things fresh. I look forward to the next installment, hoping it will bring a little more to the table. The first two had a dash of subtle dark humor, but very little, perhaps the next Raid will provide more and add some emotional depth. What do you think?

Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb

via Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb.


I remember owning this movie on VHS and had my name written on it so people knew whose it was. Jurassic Park had a tremendous influence on me, as it did a whole generation and many to come; it was one of the reasons I fell in love with practical effects and creature features. Steven Spielberg didn’t intend for this movie to be a monster movie but more about what would happen if engineers brought dinosaurs to life and we walked side by side? Universal Studios bought the rights to Jurassic Park before it was even published, confident it would be a box office hit. Right they were. The movie was sold out for consecutive days. David Koepp, the writer, said: “I’m no expert, but I think this is a good movie.” We’re still under the shadow of this colossal movie, having the fourth installment arriving just days away, exactly 22 years after the first was released. It is much anticipated by fans and new comers to sink their teeth into but I feel it won’t have as much a bite as the first initially did. It is epic, beautiful, thought provoking, and a harrowing adventure that friends and families will remember for a lifetime to come.

We all know Steven Spielberg can handle any project he comes into contact with, he has an act for directing with a sense of warmth, suspense and adventure in his pictures. Jurassic Park is clearly a masterpiece. From the special effects to the subtle wit to the dramatic ferociousness and back to the overwhelming, spectacular effects. Stan Winston (Aliens) and his team out did themselves here, the effects are top notch and even subtle. Like when Lex shines a light into the T-Rex’s eye, it dilates; or when the raptor’s eyelids move or nostrils flare. The dinosaurs have so much life, you can see the weight and even their breath on glass. They seem so realistic it’s extraordinary to this day, and the CGI is better than a lot of movies today. The special effects won an award for their hard earned effort and same for the incredible sound. Without the sound, or music, Jurassic Park would have a big difference. The score is beautiful and adventurous and will stay in your head, I even whistle it randomly. The music and sound together adds to it’s over all atmosphere giving it a distinctive feeling, it’s a whole another universe to experience and yet it’s familiar.

In the first hour it’s all character development. The slow burning attribute helps the viewer become aware of what you’re watching and it makes you feel more. It draws you in with the sense of control Spielberg has on the development of the story. You are introduced to an engaging and varied sorts of characters. You have the creator of the amusement park John Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough who was good friends with Spielberg and fits his role. Hammond comes and invites two paleontologists, Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Grant (Sam Niell), to visit his monstrous park. Sattler is ready to move forward in a relationship with Grant and have kids but he simply does not like them, must be the smell. Grant is also old fashioned and loves his work but sees technology is making his field more advanced. Although it helps with new discoveries, it takes away the whole experience of digging. Flying over seas via helicopter to an island 150 miles away from Costa Rica you meet Jeff Goldblum’s best fitting character Ian Malcolm, otherwise known as Dr. Chaos. There’s also the blood sucking lawyer, Genarro, who is greedy for money and only cares about convincing his investors; Hammond’s two grand kids who are stellar actors here, and the veteran hunter, Muldoon, who has a close eye on the velociraptors.

From the landing pad to becoming a dinosaur’s next meal is a fun experience on par with a theme park. Exactly one hour in is when the movie kicks in gear and you are treated to the infamous T-Rex scene breaking out of his paddock. Spielberg presents the terrifying creature with precision and horror, taking enough time to invoke this unstoppable fear that will cause chaos.
During filming, when it would rain, the T-Rex would malfunction and come to life and scared some of the crew. Shoot, I would, too, seeing it was a life size man-eater! The crew would give out warning when the monstrous king would step out onto the set since a sweep of it’s head flying by you felt like a bus passing by. Put that into perspective…

Jurassic Park will feed you some scary sequences. John Hammond, the theme park creator, takes his guests to the velociraptor’s paddock just in time to see it fed. You don’t see it, only it’s small area of confinement that’s covered with plant life. A cattle is lowered into the thick. And then the crunching and mauling sound of it being torn to shreds and the plant life shaking and swaying, reacting violently. The feeding scene is excruciatingly terrifying cause your imagination goes to work like the raptor does on the cattle. You also learn these animals have intelligence. What’s more terrifying than intelligence? Intelligence with memory, even more so when you find out it has escaped.

Man and dinosaurs were not meant to walk side by side. There are discussions and themes about it through out the movie. One of my favorite scenes, one that seems to be overlooked (and as a child I found boring) is after the raptor’s snacking when the group gather in a room to discuss the park and have a bite to eat. Although, no one touches their food. In fact Hammond is bewildered that the scientists don’t like the idea of free will to create this life that has been separated from humankind for 65 million years. Especially Ian Malcolm (who has the best lines), who has a morbid sense of humor but is also deep in thought; he is dressed in all black, contrary to John Hammond who is dressed in white. This is symbolic for the two characters. Hammond is a God-like figure. He has been present for every birth on the island and, like birds, they imprint the first face they come into contact with which helps them to trust him. Hammond has the power to create the illusion of life out of free will but failed to have the discipline and responsibility to gain this power therefore not fore seeing the actions he has put into play. Moving up from his flea circus, he wanted something tangible for people to see and touch. But he wants to control the uncontrollable; life finds a way, as Malcolm tries to convey to him the chaos theory. Malcolm has a dark approach but it’s reality. Telling Hammond that life breaks boundaries, painfully and even dangerously. You can not simply control something that wants to be free. It was natural selection that killed the dinosaurs and they were “[raping] the natural world” bringing them back. Hammond’s ignorance and Malcolm’s arrogance are the best of both worlds, providing us deep conversation with intrigue. 

Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park because of his fear of advancing bio-engineering technology and that one day dinosaurs will be back possibly for the sake of entertainment and profit. Something to think about of our future. Also, Crichton compared himself to Malcolm because of his outlook on life and Spielberg to Hammond. If that’s so, than I’m Grant cause I’m not really good with technology either.

We can’t even handle each other, what makes you think we can handle dinosaurs? Steven Spielberg has directed a genuinely smart, timeless epic that inspires me to read the book and will be loved by everyone to come into contact with. This magical movie leaves a message for us and after an unlikely hero saves the day, the ending moments leaves a sweet, melancholy filling. No words are spoken, just the beautiful score to help sink in our survivors’ weekend adventure.

Extra: I’d like to think Wayne Knight’s character Nedry, changed his name from Newman (Sienfeld) who was having financial problems but found a way to fix that. He left his apartment in New York and his post man job to do a gig for a company who wanted dinosaur specimens. His mission: to infiltrate the lab on Site A and acquire dinosaur embryos and return them for large amounts of cash. But when you combine money and greed, you become blinded by a toxic, gooey venom of evil.

Shrink (2009) – IMDb

via Shrink (2009) – IMDb.

A delightful film. Sitting in my queue on Netflix since it’s release, I finally came around to watching Shrink. Over the years Kevin Spacey has become a favorite of mine, not just for his movie acting but his movie choices. Too bad I didn’t watch this film sooner, It’s a film about movies but more over about how the person next to us could be experiencing a bad time. Everyone goes through time and life differently, Shrink displays this very well and at the cost of two hours, you can spend your time enjoying yourself watching a story that intertwines with other stories. At a minor tempo pacing, the film unfolds at a calm, stoner pace; revealing a storyline thoughtful, heartfelt and honest.
Kevin Spacey is a therapist, Henry, who mostly has meetings with other celebrities; step in Robin Williams cameo, and is struggling over his wife’s death. His recovery consists of heavy pot smoking and drinking next to the pool. Poor guy needs a break but instead is slammed with the responsibility of a young girl who has also suffered a loss. They come to terms that going to the movie theaters is better than talking at an actual appointment. The rest of the story I will let you figure out on your own because it’s a journey worth going through. I’m one of those type of people who like to talk about movies within movies because movie in general are awesome. They can help gravitate to any means we mean necessary and interpret thoughts we occupy daily. Shrink looks at the different angles and explains the story it wants to convey through a simple form of dialogue. Many movies take this form, I’m just surprised by this small movie how it went and went above my expectations.
At times, a darkly comedic film with a rewarding cast. By the end of it all you feel everyone was a close family.
A movie recommended for those who enjoy showbiz flicks like movie buffs or just people looking for a calming, moving title. I like how the story held it’s subtle wit but kept it’s dramatic charm for a story. I myself like to aspire myself to be a filmmaker, one can dream, right? Until then, maybe I should get a celebrity shrink in the process.

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.”

The Imitation Game (2014) – IMDb

via The Imitation Game (2014) – IMDb.

This new preview clip of The Imitation Game, the upcoming biography ...

Upon watching The Imitation Game I found myself liking the movie very much. A man named Alan Turing is a bit of an awkward person who was not popular in school. He is a genius and not at all normal. Alan didn’t succeed at making friends, however, where he was unsuccessful his mind and bold honesty will take him far. Actually only until he was 41, sadly, besides that he left his footprint in history. And that ladies and gents was Christopher. Mr.Turing was hired by the secret British service for his brain to solve the enigma and help win the war, with a hand full of other crossword enthusiasts and mathematicians. He left us with a sort of digital brain that will later lead to more important research. This contraption he made was named Christopher, a machine that could decode. This machine’s purpose was to crack Hitler’s enigma which was, at the time, said to be unbreakable. The codes were hidden Nazi plans and if the codes are cracked, Britain not only would save lives but would have a better chance of winning the war.

Whenever I watch a movie that has one small line: Based on True Events or along that matter, I can’t help but look at it like a dog listening to a high pitch sound. Is Hollywood serious about this or are they trying to make another dollar by attracting the masses by entertainment? Unfortunately, that is part of the case. After watching the entertaining Imitation Game, I looked up some reviews, a lot were like me who enjoyed the movie but others were heavy on how frustratingly inaccurate it let itself become. Apparently, the  Polish created the first enigma in the 1930s and then the Germans took it and made their own improvements. Alan Turing didn’t work on his machine alone but had help by others, plus people who were part of the decoding team weren’t even acknowledged in the movie. Among other hiccups, the other reviewers detailed it better but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research (if only Hollywood did). Does Hollywood believe there are no other historians out there who would crack their movie and find their lies? There are facts in history that be found by a click of a button or whipping out your phone. Hollywood likes to remember history a certain way which sacrifices historical accuracy for entertainment (Pearl Harbor). I think it’s funny how some historical fiction gets more history right than a movie based on an actual event.

Regardless of the history, although important, this is a good flick. I must mention the writing first, which is smart and very fun. There was a lot of word jugglery that made sense for each person and will leave you chuckling at perfect moments throughout the story. “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” The movie touches upon many subjects: Machines, Man, Secrets, Lies, Truths, and what makes us think differently. Some subject matter went deeper than expected, like accepting the people who are not ‘normal.’ The performances weren’t hail worthy, except maybe Benedict Cumberbatch, but they all succeeded what they set out to do. Matthew Goode’s (Watchman)  character, a womanizer, stood out to me as a calm, cool person who you had earn his respect before he accepted you. But as cast in all, they all had good chemistry. 

The Imitation Game is worth a watch for it’s entertainment value, and a couple historical nods. With a brisk pace and a high prduction, you can find yourself in enjoyment. And most importantly, stay different my friends.