Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

→ in

[Series Review]
Luther - Season 5 (2019) N

Luther has been one of the most interesting BBC series in recent years. I didn't even know that 5th season was coming so it was a pleasant surprise. I honestly though Elba had become too big star for reprising his role once again.

The psychopaths of the season are OK and at least I appreciated the Albert Fish references in the first (or second) episode. In Luther these things usually escalate quickly and bodies pile up - on that regard 5th season in just fine. It's not the best case of the show but not bad either.

Luther and Alice Morgan are one of the most interesting "couples" on TV so I was obviously delighted to see Alice returning. There are great lines between the two and lots of potential but I really hated how this season ended for them. In some ways the whole conflict between Luther, Alice and Cornelius is badly written and illogical.

Probably the worst season of Luther. It's still an easy watch but there's potential for much more than that.


eXistenZ (1999) R

A test show of a new virtual reality game goes wrong when there's an attempt at the lead designer's life. She must run for her life accompanied with a marketing trainee while trying to save her game.

"I think I lost my appetite."

eXistenZ is definitely an odd film, even for Cronenberg. This is my second viewing within last two years and while I actually liked it more this time it's still one of the weaker Cronenbergs for me. It seems so much more outdated than Videodrome in its dissection of media but on the other hand I'm not sure if that's even its purpose.

On this viewing my interpretation of eXistenZ is a critique towards the writing in games. Dialogue is totally bonkers, acting is weird, plot moves just because someone tells our heroes to go somewhere, etc. and the illusion of choice and freedom is shattered at every turn. Maybe Cronenberg just wants to say that movies (or traditional stories in general) still have a place and games aren't capable of challenging that (I wonder what he thinks of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch).

No matter the agenda eXistenZ is in many ways really clumsy (considering Cronenberg's other film it must be intentional). Leigh is charming as always, Law not that much. It feels the film is odd for oddity's sake. Not bad but closer to that than being good.

For a Few Dollars More (1965) r

Two bounty killers have a common prey and reluctantly they team up for the job.

Second film in Leone's Dollars Trilogy. Not that much has changed from the first film and it's easy to see why these are unofficially considered a trilogy. Eastwood's character is essentially the same and the villains are more or less interchangeable as well. Greatest change is the second protagonist and little more detailed characters with some even having little history.

I like the story and some proper character motives more than I liked For a Fistful of Dollars. On the other hand For a Few Dollars More is too long for the content. There's too much silly dick measuring contests, drawn out duels and just fluff in general. As a whole the films are about equal but the second one had potential to be clearly better.

Don't Leave Home (2018) N

An American artist who's latest exhibition is inspired by some mysterious disappearances in Ireland. When a key figure in one of these cases contacts her she happily sells the relevant work and accepts the invitation.

Don't Leave Home is pretty bad film but it fails in a good way. It has a good premise and it takes itself dead serious but director and writer Michael Tully just bites a little too much. Mystery part fails because it doesn't explain anything (not even motives), it's not even remotely scary and some shots and scenes just don't work.

Short introduction is the best part of Don't Leave Home. It's stylish and well paced unlike most of the film. At times the atmosphere is hauntingly beautiful but it never lasts for long. Acting is solid and most of the soundtrack works well. Settings are nice but Tully is unable to use their full potential.

Nice concept that, despite obviously trying hard, fails to deliver its promises. The effort alone puts this above bad though.

Proud Mary (2018) N

A blaxploitation mix of Léon and a multitude of Far East action films where a hit(wo)man loses her marbles because one of her victims had a kid. She decides to play mother and two crime organizations end up being collateral damage.

Proud Mary is extremely generic action movie with poor writing and terrible ADR (especially by Danny Glover). The relationship between Mary and the boy doesn't work (especially as it kept constantly reminding me of far superior Léon and Mathilda duo where it actually made sense that Léon started to protect the girl).

Action itself looks like second grade John Wick copy and Henson isn't convincing as a hero (I did like her in Person of Interest). Some scenes (like her car being shot full of holes but none of the bullets ever hitting her) are outright ridiculous even for an action film. It's just bad movie.

The Ninth Gate (1999) R

A rare book dealer is hired to authenticate an expensive and old occult tome. He travels to Europe to compare it with two other known copies and gets tangled up in events out of his control.

The Ninth Gate is not the best Polanski but it's still pretty decent. I love the story (I have a soft spot for these occult mysteries) and characters are quite interesting too. All the main ingredients are done right and despite of its length the film doesn't feel that long.

My issues with The Ninth Gate are in the details. It feels like its hastily done and there hasn't been enough time to polish things. It's visually bland, there's humor that doesn't seem to fit, there's quite a bit of fluff and acting isn't always very good. It feels like an early draft of a great story.

The Ninth Gate gets the big picture right but messes the details quite a bit. Still mostly enjoyable watch.

I saw Ninth Gate for the first time about 5 years ago, and it played out exactly how I thought it would with a demon movie starring Johnny Depp. My rating would be lower, but I can get how people would like it. The most detailed thing I remember is the sex scene towards the end

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
I watch it YEARS ago, remember it being obnoxiously long.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

I watch it YEARS ago, remember it being obnoxiously long.
With all the fluff in it it it still didn't feel that long to me. It's obviously flawed film but it has some charm that works with me. And my brother claims it's an easy 5/5 movie

Revenger (2019) N

After a crime boss kills his wife and daughter a police officer seeks revenge. He kills his way to life sentence in a prison island now ruled by his target.

Revenger is little odd Korean martial arts action. With plenty of juvenile comedy and almost mythical approach to vengeance it's unmistakably Korean. Its story is a lot more western though as it's practically a 1980s Italian barbarian film set in modern day (or "modern" as the prison island is not that much different from the world of sword-and-sandal movies).

There's plenty of action in Revenger. Some of it is good and there are some nice choreographies in more crowded fights. Strikes don't always seem to have much impact and there are some sequences that are clearly sped up. It also bothers me that the hero doesn't take any weapons with him but starts every confrontation unarmed. Fights are semi brutal but nothing like The Night Comes for Us.

Characters are non-existent (hero's wife and daughter were killed and he wants revenge - that's the deepest Revenger has to offer). Comedic reliefs (i.e. almost everyone besides the hero, girl, her mother and couple of the bad guys) are stupid even by Korean standards but yeah, I did laugh few times so in all their absurdity I'd say they're better than usual.

Barbarian movie masked as a martial arts film. Decent action and dimwitted comedy result in somewhat entertaining experience.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) r

Three men with questionable morals find themselves in search of gold buried in a remote cemetery. They all have common history and very little trust to each other.

Final movie of Leone's Dollars Trilogy and the best of the three. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is considerable step up in storytelling and production values. It's also stylistically much more refined than the previous two and shows Leone already at his prime.

Story is good and even when separated all three characters move naturally towards the same destination. It's little lighter in tone than previous two but under the humor lies also the darkness (especially related to The Civil War). The story itself is quite simple but it's told like it has epic proportions.

Acting is really solid and the lead trio have good chemistry. Quite a few minor characters are memorable as well (like the Union captain and storekeeper). Soundtrack is good but it's not among my favorite Morricones. Settings are great, tons of extras make war scenes look good and cinematography is marvelous.

There are some minor issues that take away half a popcorn though. I don't like how van Cleef gets (or at least feels like he gets) much less screen time than the other two. On a related note I think some small editing would have benefited the film (by cutting little from Tuco and Blondie messing with each other would have made the film more compact and increased van Cleef's screen time in proportion to others). There's also little too much comedic elements.

As a whole much better than I remembered. It's not far from getting full points but it's a tad too long and little too comedic for my tastes.

The Ninth Gate (1999) R

The Ninth Gate gets the big picture right but messes the details quite a bit. Still mostly enjoyable watch.

I love The Ninth Gate. I used to watch it almost regularly years ago; probably seen it dozens of times. Not great, but I felt so at ease with the atmosphere. The music had a lot to do with that; dark, pretty, and sometimes campy.

eXistenZ is a favorite of mine. I love Cronenberg’s body weirdness, but I don’t think the movie as a whole was much of a commentary on game writing itself (apart from some ‘NPC’ actors' dialogues) as much as a future-shock depiction of their effect on a carried away society and people getting wildly hooked on them.

Good to know you like metal too. I’m very behind on most modern artists, but loved Ihsahn’s stuff starting with Emperor. Eremita is my favorite solo of his. Still haven’t listened to Amr in full, but the track you posted sounds decent.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) r

As a whole much better than I remembered. It's not far from getting full points but it's a tad too long and little too comedic for my tastes.

I watched The Big Gundown recently. Released around the same time and has quite a bit in common (almost to a fault). Shorter runtime, more LVC, and pretty much a rehashed score from Morricone. The story and dubbing drag it down, but I think any fan of TGTBATU should give it a go.

I love The Ninth Gate. I used to watch it almost regularly years ago; probably seen it dozens of times. Not great, but I felt so at ease with the atmosphere. The music had a lot to do with that; dark, pretty, and sometimes campy.
The whole film is kinda campy at times but in a good way. And the whole plot about occult books is positively Lovecraftian even though the film is obviously rooted in Christian mythology.

Good to know you like metal too. I’m very behind on most modern artists, but loved Ihsahn’s stuff starting with Emperor. Eremita is my favorite solo of his. Still haven’t listened to Amr in full, but the track you posted sounds decent.
I've been into metal since I was like nine or something. There was a time I listened to it pretty exclusively but I've been broadening my horizons since then. Still way more than half of the stuff I listen is metal.

I watched The Big Gundown recently. Released around the same time and has quite a bit in common (almost to a fault). Shorter runtime, more LVC, and pretty much a rehashed score from Morricone. The story and dubbing drag it down, but I think any fan of TGTBATU should give it a go.
I've probably seen that one as a kid but don't remember anything besides the fact that the name and plot sound familiar. Will need to put that on my watchlist.

Suspiria (2018) N

Suzie, a girl from Ohio, comes to prestigious dancing school in Berlin. It just happens that the school is run by a coven of witches.

Back when this remake was announced I was very skeptical. After the release the reviews have been mostly positive though and my expectations have risen considerably. Unfortunately the film itself couldn't match my hopes and I ended up being very disappointed.

Lets start with the good stuff. Luca Guadagnino did at least one correct decision as he didn't try to replicate Dario Argento's style but made his Suspiria completely different kind of film. Other than that there's very little good; wintry Berlin looks nice, film is clearly made with R-rating in mind and there are few good looking shots.

My greatest issue with Suspiria is its length or more precisely the fact that at least an hour of it is completely meaningless fluff. Dr. Klemperer should have been written off the film completely for that alone would make the pacing far more bearable. Also despite of repeated news reports of contemporary political events the film failed to connect itself to any of that tension - the story wouldn't be affected at all if you'd cut those out of the script.

Acting is mostly fine but the decision to cast Tilda Swinton as a man was an obvious failure and Dakota Johnson just failed to bring her character to life at the end of the film. Visually the film is very grey and I think the outdoor shots work fine but inside the school everything looks just bland. Soundtrack is decent but the folk(?) songs don't fit at all.

I don't get all the positive reviews. Argento's original is a unique gem but the remake just drags on forever. And no, I don't trash this because it's not the original but because I think it's a bad film on its own.

Tumbbad (2018) N

In a city of Tumbbad there is a temple devoted to god Hastar. He was exiled into oblivion as a punishment for his greed but men built him a temple. Now he lives beneath the temple in a giant womb of his mother and some men try to steal his riches.

Indian movies are very unfamiliar thing for me (I think I've seen one or two before but no title comes to mind so I'm not sure) but I chose to watch Tumbbad because its concept seemed interesting. While I don't think it's particularly good film it's at least something that may encourage me to watch more Indian films (it didn't have dancing or singing - something I was genuinely afraid of).

Besides the interesting idea the best thing in Tumbbad is its absolutely beautiful visuals. Especially the outdoor shots in Tumbbad and the temple look really good. I just love the colors and scenery and the technical quality of the film was surprise to me.

I like the first chapter the most because of the visuals and a sense of mystery. Second chapter is probably the weakest but ends in style. Third chapter starts better but has quite predictable and bland fable ending. Acting seems alright but it's always hard to say with unfamiliar languages like Hindi here.

Tumbbad looks awesome but after pretty decent start it tumbles down to mediocrity. Worth a watch for the beautiful imagery alone though.

R-Point (2004) N

During the Vietnam War a South Korean squad is sent on a rescue mission after an unexpected radio contact from soldiers who went missing some months ago.

Few months ago I mentioned that war horror films are surprisingly rare (which is a bad thing). This time I'd like to expand that a little. I'd wish there were more war horror films and that they'd be more varied (there's three prominent plots - zombies, scientific / occult experiments and these guilt or trauma driven mysteries). There are some more unique exceptions but R-Point isn't one of them.

So the biggest issue with R-Point is predictability - approximately five minutes into the film I knew what the twist would be. That makes the film little boring. It's technically solid and has decent atmosphere but it's too formulaic (or maybe it's more honest to say that it has a wrong formula for me) to stand out.

In typical Korean manner the characters a little too goofy but R-Point keeps its humor in check. Acting is fine except few overacted silly moments and the film looks quite good. Soundtrack has nice moments but some of the EDM tunes felt really out of place.

Decent war horror but it feels like I've seen this multiple times already. Worth a watch if you're interested in war horror (the less of them you've seen the better this probably is - it's above average of its kind, I think).

Recommendations: I was continuously reminded of Finnish horror film Sauna while watching this. An example of little more unique war horror could be The Keep which has some technical issues but it's still pretty fine film.

Eliminators (1986) r

What would you do with a time machine? Dr. Reeves wants to go to ancient Rome and be a god emperor. It's time for Mandroid (a Robocop pre-dating Robocop itself), a female scientist (whose inventions Reeves is ripping off), a riverboat captain (a carbon copy of Han Solo) and ninja (son of Reeves former, now dead assistant) to stop this madman.

I'd seen this one as a kid but didn't remember much except the VHS cover and Mandroid's mobile unit. Eliminators is an obvious B-movie that loans from so many sources and mixes it all together into a silly mess (think of a Terminator, Star Wars, generic martial arts and barbarian movies blended into one and spicing it all up with The Black Hole robot design and some "fruity cavemen").

Technically Eliminators is really bad. Action is stiff, effects are crappy, writing and directing clumsy, acting wooden but still it manages to amuse at times. It's pretty close being bad enough to be good. I'd suppose this could be a good film to watch with friends and alcohol (if you're into such events - I'm not).

Hilariously bad at its best but otherwise too boring to really enjoy. I still can't give this bad rating though.

Deep Red (1975) R

A rewatch for the Horror HoF so I'll keep this short. The old review can be found here and for the most part it's still valid.

One thing that the rewatch changed is my view on the script. Already knowing the murderer gave me another perspective and I think Deep Red is actually really well written. There are some issues still but for the most part things are neatly pointing towards the correct killer. Also really nice and bold move to actually show the killer very early in the film (I suppose most people are like me and miss it the first time though).

I didn't mind the length that much this time and even most of the comedic scenes worked OK as character development. Soundtrack actually bothered me a little now - some of those tunes are just too groovy for the scenes (main theme is wonderful though). Visually Deep Red is still superb. And that little psycho girl, Nicoletta Elmi, is so great.

Overall I liked this more now than on the first viewing and will raise the rating by half popcorn.

[Series Review]
The Punisher - Season 2 (2019)

Second season of Netflix's The Punisher is mediocre television show but really crappy Punisher filming. Neither Bernthal's take on Frank Castle nor the script feels right to me. If it wasn't called The Punisher I might like it more but now it just doesn't match my expectations.

I hate the caveman-like grunting Frank who's main advantage in the fight is his superhuman ability to withstand damage. Some of the fights look ridiculous because of this (Billy's trap and the final fight between Pilgrim and Frank are the worst examples). I also don't like how he just walks into fights without any plans. He's supposed to be smart and trained soldier, not some Groo the Wanderer wannabe.

Story isn't really Punisher either. First season was Frank avenging his family (which he screwed up in preparation for the second season) and now he's just in a wrong place at a wrong time and forced to defend himself (and the girl). Where's the war on crime he's supposed to be waging? Why are all these Punisher stories on Netflix so personal (or in other words why are they all carbon copies of every other Netflix Marvel series)?

Other than that it's kinda OK. Main story is fine and I liked Amy (she and Madani were best supporting characters this season). Pilgrim is little too cliched and predictable (and too strong for what he is). Billy and his shrink are decent but I still don't get why she fell in love with him. Curtis didn't make much sense to me.

It's not the Punisher I want but otherwise it's mostly watchable.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) RR

A mysterious man playing harmonica, a widow and a former whore from New Orleans, a leader of an outlaw gang and a railroad tycoon with his cold-blooded enforcer are all brought together by a piece of land in the middle of nowhere.

Cinematically a direct continuation for Leone's Dollars Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in the West takes his style one last step further. At times its pace slows down to a crawl with all action and dialogue replaced by extreme close-ups of creased faces and dusty men trudging slowly towards their deaths. Story isn't built properly but advances almost accidentally on the heels of the dying. But somehow Leone makes this all work.

This is my favorite Leone and favorite western. It has less humor than any film in the Dollars Trilogy and has far more somber mood. The film pushes one form of cinema to the extreme and while continuously teetering on the brink of boring and ridiculous it never falters. It's like Harmonica's smile that never breaks into laughter but can't be wiped off his face either.

Whole cast is pretty much perfect. I personally prefer Bronson over Eastwood - he's less traditional macho but more edgy and threatening somehow. Fonda and his cold blue eyes make a fine villain and Cardinale is strong but still feminine widow caught up in the middle of the conflict. There's not a bad actor choice in the whole film.

Cinematography is just fantastic and Morricone's soundtrack is awesome. Settings look great and you can feel how the progress is killing the old West before your eyes. Once Upon a Time in the West is a true epic that fixes all the little issues Leone had in his previous westerns. A true masterpiece and a film that has a safe spot on my personal top-10.