Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

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Movie Diary 2018

New year, new Movie Diary and some minor changes.

1) While the thread is still called a Movie Diary I'll rate, review and discuss other stuff as well. Last year I reviewed at least one television show and this year I plan to have them covered on regular basis along with some books and music. Despite of the name consider this to be an Art / Entertainment Diary.

2) Hopefully people already know me a little so maybe (hint, hint) there'll be more discussion. This is also another reason why I'm planning to post something else besides reviews as well. I also try to post to Rate The Last Movie You Saw on more regular basis for improved visibility.

For each movie/series I'll mark if I've seen it before or if it's a new one for me.

N = seen for the first time
r = rewatch but didn't remember much anyway
R = rewatch
RR = rewatch of a film I've seen multiple times

I still occasionally list recommendations for (more or less) similar stuff but considering how often I didn't do that last year expect this to be more like a special event than the norm.

Note: I'm little stingy with ratings so 3+ should be considered at least a tentative recommendation (even 2+ if the genre or subject of the movie seems interesting to you).

Bad (<=1.5) | OK (2-3) | Good (3.5+)

June 2019 (1+):
#131: Captive Sate (2019) | #132: Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1972) | #133: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) | #134: BlacKkKlansman (2018) |

Jan - May  

Formatting is still under construction.

Series (8+):
#1: Perfume (2018) | #2: Luther - Season 5 (2019) | #3: The Punisher - Season 2 (2019) | #4: Kingdom - Season 1 (2019) | #5: Millennium Trilogy (2010) | #6: The Little Drummer Girl (2018) | #7: The Passage - Season 1 (2019) | #8: Hanna - Season 1 (2019) | #9: Grisse - Season 1 (2018) |

Books (2+):
#1: Books of Blood 1 | #2: Books of Blood 2 |

Music (1+):
#1: Top-10 Albums 2018

Random (1+):
#1: Advanced Stats For 2018

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) R

A father and son coroner duo attempt to figure out the secrets of a mysterious young woman who's corpse was found during a crime investigation.

I saw this when it was new and only rewatched it because of HoF nomination. Like many small budget horrors (and scifi too) this primarily feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone (or, I guess, Black Mirror but I haven't bothered with that one) and as a rule I don't like that style.

First of all I hate it when these films do that "oh, it all happened in your head" thing. It's an easy and cheap cop-out to have things happen without paying attention to logic and explanations. All we get is a premise (kind of interesting one too) followed by a hollow chain of events that leads nowhere. I can't shake the feeling that even the makers of the film didn't know what was actually going on or why.

On surface level the film is technically fine but extremely predictable with its scares. There's very little content in it (which enhances the feeling of watching a stretched out TV episode) and a good premise is largely wasted. Just not my kind of horror.

The Evil Dead (1981) RR

Five young people go to spend a weekend at a remote cabin. They find some stuff left by the previous occupant in the basement and accidentally wake the slumbering demons. Why do I bother with the plot, everyone's seen this anyways?

I was nine or ten years old when I first saw this (back then the Finnish VHS version was cut by 11 minutes and 50 seconds). I hadn't seen many horror films by then so The Evil Dead was obviously very scary (me and my big brother usually watched all the films we rented at least twice but I skipped the nightly rewatch on this).

Fortunately The Evil Dead isn't just nostalgia trip but moderately good horror film with some comedic elements. Raimi's direction is already quite solid and cinematography is very inventive. Most of the effects are good (not the modeling clay stuff in the end though) and in general it looks surprisingly good for the money.

There are some issues though that make it far less impressive for me today. First of all there's way too much comedy. I'm not a fan of horror comedies and while The Evil Dead keeps that aspect somewhat in check it's still too much for me. Then the acting is mostly terrible (especially Bruce Campbell) and there's too much stuff aimed at teen audience (I suppose they were the target audience but it doesn't mean I have to like it). Didn't like the soundtrack either, it felt quite out of place at times.

Despite all the previous complaints The Evil Dead is still good film (at least with some help from nostalgia). I love the passion that was put into it and the raw talent shown by Sam Raimi.


[Book Review]
Books of Blood 1 by Clive Barker

Barker's debut book and first of six short story collections in the series. I read this (and all the other parts, I think) almost thirty years ago when the Finnish translation was released. This time I read it in English.

Book 1 is little uneven probably because it's a debut and also because of Barker's intentional mixing of themes, styles and tones between the stories. Especially the lightest and most comedic story, The Yattering and Jack, is quite bad. There are some odd tonal shifts within stories too, especially Sex, Death and Starshine.

In my opinion Barker is at his best in more serious and bleak stories. Intoductory The Book of Blood, The Midnight Meat Train and In the Hills, the Cities are the best and most consistent stories in this book. His ideas are quite innovative and he can write very enjoyable text. This wasn't nearly as gruesome and foul as I remembered though (or my definition of such has changed during the years).


Evil Dead II (1987) R

Sequel with a hint of remake that kinda continues from where the first film ended. Connections to the first are very superficial and I think it would have been better to start a new series instead of turning Evil Dead into full slapstick. As a result this is more like an Army of Darkness prequel than an Evil Dead sequel.

Evil Dead II has all the bad things of the first film and very few of the good ones. It no longer even attempts to be horror but goes full comedy, acting (especially by Campbell) is still terrible (Sarah Berry as Annie is only decent actor here), plot and suspense is replaced by making faces and "funny" noises and visually Raimi mostly copies what he invented during the first film.

Effects are far worse and, again, it seems like they didn't even try (the trees are kinda cool though). It doesn't feel like its made by the same guy who made the first but like a tribute by someone far less talented. I'm not rewatching Army of Darkness now as I've seen it quite recently (it's not as good as the first but considerably better than this).

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Ugh...couldn't disagree more. With everything you listed as hating, I loved.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

Bird Box (2018) N

Mysterious creatures that drive people suicidally insane on sight have brought an apocalypse. A woman and two young children are trying to reach a refuge at the end of an arduous river journey.

I didn't have high expectations for Bird Box because I found the book rather mediocre and had doubts how the concept would work in more visual media. Decided to watch it anyway because of somewhat positive reviews I've seen / heard. Maybe I should have trusted my instinct...

The use of flashbacks to tell the story is faulted as the first scene practically spoils what's going to happen. Unless my memory plays tricks on me there are some odd changes from the book (e.g. in film the creatures seem to have an agenda and they feel much more supernatural than in the book). I don't think that awkward romance was in the book either. Even the ending which was already so-so in the book is made worse with chase scene.

Acting is alright but there are no characters to root for (I guess the kids but they're more like plot device than characters). I don't understand why Sandra Bullock was cast on this because she's too old (in the book Malorie is a college student and while that's changed in the film she's still having her first baby in her 50s) and looks weird with all the plastic surgeries and Botox.

Overall another bad Netflix movie. How do they always mess things up with their films?

Evil Dead II (1987) R

Ouch. I value your opinion, but knocking Mr. Campbell hurts my soul.

I'll look out for more book reviews though. I loved Clive Barker's imagination when I was a teen, and still have the Books of Blood on my shelf. It's been a while, but I thought the Midnight Meat Train movie was decent too.

Rust Creek (2018) N

A college student is invited to job interview in another city. To dodge some blockage in the highway she takes a detour through the forest roads. She gets little lost, bumps into wrong locals and ends up running for her life through the woods.

Rust Creek was pretty random pick for me. I didn't even know what kind of film it was (the plot kinda suggested some survival horror) so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be very decent thriller / drama. So no cannibals hiding in the Kentucky woods but some redneck drug dealers.

Rust Creek has rather good characters and for a change a protagonist that seems to have her wits about for the majority of time. As a whole the character interactions are well written and acting is good too. There are some minor issues with the script (mostly too many coincidences) but nothing that really ruins anything.

Settings are beautiful and the film looks great too. Direction, pacing, etc. are all just fine but soundtrack is kinda bland. I don't know why majority of violence is shown off-screen in R-rated film but it's not actual flaw - just a differing preference. All in all I liked this one quite a bit even though it's not exactly my favorite kind of a film.

Bird Box (2018) N

Mysterious creatures that drive people suicidally insane on sight have brought an apocalypse.
That sounds good. It makes me think back to Seventies Doctor Who with the sight of the Silurians causing madness, influenced by race-memory. Those affected start drawing images like cave paintings.

Vigilante (1982) N

When Eddie finds out that some of his working buddies have a small scale vigilante operation he doesn't exactly approve. His stance changes after his family becomes victims of gang violence and the law lets the perpetrators walk. It's the usual story for these films.

If you want your city back, you gotta take it.

Two years earlier William Lustig directed the notorious Maniac and in some sense Vigilante continues with the same style. Its city is dirty, cold and violent place where people live in constant fear. It's nihilistic portrayal of society and humanity and their shortcomings.

Vigilante is perhaps little heavy-handed in its social criticism but it still has a message I can agree with. Like many other 80s vigilante films Vigilante doesn't condemn the actions of its protagonists. I have a soft spot for these films and their ideology has always appealed to me.

There are some very stupid things in the script (e.g. whole prison part has no real function and the car chase in the end is just dumb). Lustig's direction is good and he knows how to capture the dirt and depression of the city. Acting is quite good but Fred Williamson is really wooden (I don't remember if I've ever seen a good performance by him). Violence is semi-brutal but nothing like in Maniac. Oh, and the guns have a serious kick in this one.

Mostly fine vigilante film that drags a little due to unneeded prison sequence and suffers from some serious flaws on script department.

Lukas (2018) N

A single father working as a bouncer gets involved with organized crime. Between the criminals and police he's trying to give his daughter a good life.

Lukas is a downbeat and bare-bones crime drama that's little different from what van Damme usually has done. It's simplistic to a fault with characters feeling more like tools to advance the story than actual people. It's also quite predictable in its indie crime film niche.

JCVD isn't bad actor when he's cast correctly and Lukas is a good role for him. His current looks are perfect match for the grey and bleak surroundings of the film. Lukas isn't the deepest character in cinematic history but he's good enough for a film like this - everyone else is thin as paper though and their actions don't seem to have any purpose besides being plot devices.

A film like Lukas would need better characters and story. As it is it's just another mediocre indie crime film with nothing new to offer and nothing to raise it above the competition.

[Series Review]
Perfume (2018) N

Perfume is not precisely based on Patrick Süskind's book but a series inspired by it and its filming from 2006. In present day Germany a singer is found murdered with her scent glands removed. Police investigation soon focuses on a group of people she used to hang with in her youth.

Perfume is very dark and deranged series. Pretty much every character is despicable in at least one way. Everyone is abusing someone else either physically or mentally or both, men are rapists and pigs, women are jealous whores and everyone is driven by pure lust that's worth killing for. There have been lots of criticism about misogyny but I'd say Perfume is more about misanthropy.

Some sub-plots feel unnecessary for a long time but everything is pretty nicely connected in the end. For the most part the plot evolves nicely being somewhat unpredictable while still making sense. Acting is really good from practically everyone and technically the show is great. First couple of episodes could have drawn you better into the story but I don't know exactly how.

Bleak and twisted murder mystery that's both daring and well made.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) r

Leone's Yojimbo in the Wild West. A gunslinger arrives to a small town where two rival gangs are warring with each other. He starts to play both sides trying to bring both gangs down.

Before I started to watch I didn't even remember that this was the Yojimbo remake. I suppose it's a good thing because I'm not a fan of that story but A Fistful of Dollars still managed to be a good film. Scheming and plotting seems to be the end in itself but somehow Leone keeps the events more or less in check.

Usually I like Spaghetti Westerns more than the American Westerns. They're darker and more violent, have more moral ambiguity and Italian style just appeals to me. A Fistful of Dollars isn't the most beautiful Leone film but it still looks great and Morricone's soundtracks are always excellent. Eastwood is his iconic self and the villains are as brutal as any.

Above average Western that launched Leone's career and probably the best film with Yojimbo's plot.

Halloween (2018) N

Michael Myers kills again and woe to those who err to watch it.

In search of Halloween's quality?

For the first 30 minutes or so I was wondering what am I watching: a mockumentary about Michael Myers, a critique about low quality of modern journalism, a parody of slashers or something else? Then it finally sank in that Halloween is just a terrible movie that is at its best during the opening credits.

I know I'm not much into slashers but even within its own kind Halloween is extremely boring and uninspired film. The blatant Terminator 2 loans don't help either (all that's missing is Michael giving thumbs up from the flames) and the whole Sarah Connor routine feels really awkward.

Carpenter's music is the best thing in this film. Actually that's the only positive thing in the whole film. Worst 2018 film I've actually finished this far.

The City of the Dead (1960) N

A college student goes to small (and foggy) New England town to research withcraft.

The concept of undead witches hounding a small town because of centuries old grudge is something I like. Settings are also nice and there's definitely enough fog floating around helping with the atmosphere. The introduction scene is nice and the "research reveals too much" plot is just fine.

Sadly there's way too many issues with The City of the Dead for it to ever truly becoming an enjoyable watch. In a way it's like two movies crammed into one (first the college student going to Whitewood and then the sequel with her brother and boyfriend) and the story moves on a stiff, mechanical and hurried pace without any concern of characterization or fleshing out the story. It feels like a filmed synopsis instead of a finished product.

Nice idea and charming visuals aren't enough to make this good but at least they keep The City of the Dead floating barely above being bad.

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976) N

Married English couple visits a small island on the coast of Spain. They wonder where the adults are and soon notice that something is wrong with the children.

Who Can Kill a Child? is (or at least I think it is) one of those almost forgotten cult classics that deserve recognition. I randomly stumbled upon the name few months ago and finally managed to see it. I didn't really know what to expect but the concept felt somewhat promising.

Easiest comparisons would probably be Night of the Living Dead and The Birds. It puts small number of people in the middle of the mystery, an unexplained phenomenon that turns traditionally harmless objects into something evil. And the children here are truly wicked - they're not mindless zombies but calculating and cruel and treacherous.

Who Can Kill a Child? sets its tone from the beginning by cutting news inserts from various wars and catastrophes between its opening credits (which kind of reminds me of Cross of Iron). I was initially little worried that these were used just for shock value but they did serve a purpose.

Huge positive surprise. If you like bleak and joyless horrors you should definitely check Who Can Kill a Child?

Time for the first music post. This is my current top-10 albums of 2018. I'm sure there are still great albums from last year I haven't heard so in future the list may look different but this is it today. The order from 7 to 10 is almost random so you may consider them all sharing the 7th place.

Top-10 Albums 2018

01: The Warning - Queen of the Murder Scene
Three young Mexican sisters make some of the catchiest rock songs of our time. It's rock with a hint of metal and just a right amount of teenage angst and broken dreams. It's even more impressive that these girls are great live band.
Dust to Dust

02: Funeral Mist - Hekatomb
The best black metal album of 2018 is Swedish. It's quite fast and aggressive with good songwriting and top notch vocals. It "true" enough to have hefty amount rawness but technical and well produced at the same time.
Pallor Mortis

03: Khemmis - Desolation
First of the two doom metal bands on my list comes from Denver, Colorado. Khemmis plays traditional doom with lots heavy metal influences. I love how the music often seems to follow vocal melodies giving them somewhat unique sound. Singer is also awesome.

04: Arrayan Path - Archegonoi
Power metal band currently residing in Cyprus. I discovered them last year with their previous album. Archegonoi took little time to grow on me and it still isn't just as good as Dawn of Aquarius but still very good. Therion influences are more audible than before.

05: King Goat - Debt of Aeons
More doom metal, this time from UK. King Goat is little more rough than Khemmis but still heavily rooted in traditional doom with some death metal and sludge influences. Songwriting may not be as tight as Khemmis has but the best moments on the album are just perfect. And the singer's voice incredible.
Doldrum Sentinels

06: Sulphur Aeon - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
Iä! Iä! German death metal wakens Cthulhu from his slumber. Atmospheric and mid-tempo with occasional faster sections and clean vocals. The latest addition to this list and I haven't listened to it that much yet but it sure sounds good after few spins.
Yuggothian Spell

07: Madder Mortem - Marrow
Progressive metal with lots of doom influences from Norway. Madder Mortem has always made good songs but I've never really liked any of their albums as a whole before. On Marrow they seem to finally succeed on pleasing me. My only major complaint is that they sound too much like Hammers of Misfortune at times.
Far from Home

08: Anaal Nathrakh - A New Kind of Horror
More music from UK, this time brutal and noisy blackened death with hint of industrial metal. Anaal Nathrakh continues their usual tropes and creates noisy wall of aggression and pessimism. WWI is just a perfect theme for their album.
Obscene as Cancer

09: Meg Myers - Take Me to the Disco
Here's the album that doesn't seem to fit on this list. Meg Myers is pop-rock artist from Nashville, Tennesee who has nothing to do with metal. She has probably the sexiest voice I've heard and some serious songwriting skills too.

10: Ihsahn - Ámr
Former Emperor frontman continues his solo career. Still rooted deep in Norwegian black metal but very progressive and not hindered by tight genre borders. He never seems to make the perfect album but all of them are at least good.
Lend Me the Eyes of Millennia