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Victoria: A True Gem And Worthy Of Being Called A Masterpiece

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LAIA COSTA is Victoria in "Victoria." (Photo: Adopt Films)

LAIA COSTA is Victoria in “Victoria.” (Photo: Adopt Films)

Think back and picture the craziest night out you have ever had, got it? Now times that by 10 and throw in a bank heist…

Spanish cafe worker Victoria (Costa) meets 4 Berliners on a night out and sparks up an unlikely friendship. Things take a sudden twist however when ex convict Boxer (Rogowski) must return a favour for the man who offered him protection in prison. The favour is specified as a 4 person job and with one of the 4 men smashed out of his mind on drugs, Victoria reluctantly takes his place.

The USP of Victoria is that it is filmed entirely in one take, no cut-aways, no clever sweeps to disguise scene changes this is the real deal. This is extremely impressive and to my knowledge has never been done to this extent. The film is 2 hours 18 minutes and doesn’t break shot once. This daring style of film making was a risk reward and puts the viewer in the shoes of a silent and invisible character. You feel totally immersed in the world and almost one of the characters. The camera crew were easily the stars of this film and deserve all the praise they have gained.

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You are with the cast from start to finish, the audience travels through night clubs, rides in the backs of cars, inside posh hotels and even through a hail of gunfire. This makes for an unrivalled level of intimacy between audience and the characters as we are with Victoria through every decision and consequence. I truly connected with the people on screen, I cared for Victoria, felt sympathy for Sonne and I truly feared Boxer.

Victoria’s pacing is a nail-biting slow burn, we loiter the streets and hangout on rooftops with the cast for at least the first half of the film. Things instantly pick up once the job gets under way, this was relatable in the way that snap decisions can have huge consequences. These decisions may seem insignificant at the time but they make way for larger and more dangerous ones to follow. This constant ramping up of tension and danger made for an exciting but at times harrowing watch. The film constantly made me question what I would do in certain situations and because the audience is essentially along for the ride we see the and feel the impact first hand.

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A few people may take issue with the handheld style of film, however for the most part this was handled confidently. The pans were short and snappy without having that nauseating effect like in other productions. Another issue that may put people of is the subtitles, The character of Victoria is Spanish but speaks English throughout the film. The 4 Berliners however sometimes quickly transition from German to a thick accented English. This was sometimes difficult to keep pace with during the action sequences but not enough to break immersion.

By the end of the feature I could of sworn I had partied till 4 am, been in a high speed chase and felt the effects of cocaine all in the space of a couple of hours. I was really there, the film just convinced me and pulled me in from the outset. The bar has been well and truly raised.

The Verdict

Victoria reminds me why I fell in love with cinema, the connection to characters, the range of emotions and to ultimately the feeling of losing myself in another world. This is a daring and bold piece of film making that pushes the boundaries and raises the bar for technical achievement. A true gem and worthy of being called a masterpiece.

5/5

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‘Victoria’ Stars: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit

HORROR

‘Penance Lane’ Brings The Rob Zombie influence

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I’m gonna get us out of this.
We’re gonna be okay.

 

Penance Lane” is something for the fans of cheaply produced B-horror movies that don’t exactly excel when it comes to the storyline. I was actually very curious about this movie after reading the synopsis on IMDb. And the movie poster also looked interesting. So let me say that I started watching the film with a dose of healthy enthusiasm. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm collapsed halfway through the film like a soufflé that has just come out of the oven. It’s a pity though, because the first half was of a decent level.

 

Penance Lane

 

A dilapidated house.

The prologue in itself made me curious enough and confirmed what I expected. A dilapidated house where some gang members hid after committing a robbery. Such a gang of “badasses” with impressive guns and an attitude as if they can handle the whole world. Unfortunately, they are no match for what is harassing them from dark corners and dark places in this creepy house. Why this was actually the most compelling part of the movie, I don’t really have an explanation for. Maybe because you don’t really know which direction it will go. Is it something demonic or will it be a “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” kind of film?

 

Penance Lane

 

Let’s bring in the handyman.

Time to introduce the protagonist. Crimson Matthews (Tyler Mane) strolls around the town streets. An ex-convict with a rugged appearance. He gets into a fight with the son of the local Police Captain, when it turns out that this son uses his girlfriend (Scout Taylor-Compton) as a punching bag, and then meets the owner (mother of the girl in question) of the local diner. Crimson doesn’t waste any time and almost immediately seeks a job as a handyman. And he ends up at the abandoned house, apparently owned by the local priest (John Schneider) who hires him without further ado. From the start, it’s clear that our tough hero doesn’t intend to demonstrate ingenious handyman-techniques. It’s also evident that it’s no coincidence he ended up in this house. And that his night’s rest would be disturbed by something that wanders through the house like a shadow, was also to be expected. Despite the fact that there’s sometimes a bit of too exaggerated acting and toe-curling, clumsy dialogues are being used, the film remained fascinating. Till this point anyway. Because somewhere in the middle of the film, the plot twist presents itself and the tone of the film changes drastically.

 

Penance Lane

 

Do I sense a Rob Zombie influence?

If you look at “Penance Lane” in its entirety in terms of storyline and overall look and feel, you could say that it belongs to Rob Zombie’s oeuvre (albeit among the less successful creations). Coincidentally, there are a number of actors who also appeared in a Rob Zombie movies before. Like Tyler Mane who played Michael Myers in “Halloween II“. Scout Taylor-Compton also played an important role in that film. And then there’s Daniel Roebuck (the Police Captain) who got a role in almost every Rob Zombie movie. It may not have affected the creators of this film, but the least you can say is that it’s extremely coincidental. I’m not a real Rob Zombie adept but I could appreciate his flick “31”.

 

Penance Lane

 

Ultimately, it was a disappointment.

In the end, “Penance Lane” was a disappointment for me. If the gradation of my enthusiasm were graphed, I’m sure it would resemble any COVID-19 graph. Except that there’s no sign of a “flatten the curve” effect. After its peak, the curve goes very fast to a zero point. Maybe my expectations weren’t met because the concept changed drastically. In the end, it became a kind of thriller without supernatural apparitions. Rather a crime story in which an insane individual has set up a lucrative business activity. The story made no sense and at some point became downright ridiculous. I have learned the following lesson from this. No matter how good a summary sounds or what a movie poster looks like, it’s never a guarantee the movie will be any good. And yet there was, somewhere deeply hidden, an excellent film. Unfortunately, they failed to conjure it.

 

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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Becky: An Entertaining Gory Thriller, An Adult ‘Home Alone’

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Becky is as strong-willed and vindictive as they come
and you just tortured and killed her only living parent.

 

Feel like watching a straightforward “home invasion” film with dangerous-looking thugs (impressive body length, coarse facial features, and imposing tattoos on the back of their bald heads) taking an innocent family hostage? Well, in that case, “Becky” is the right movie for you. As with “Bushwick“, also directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, you don’t have to wait long for the violence to erupt. First, there’s a brief introduction of the main characters Becky (Lulu Wilson) and father Jeff (Joel McHale), who wants to spend a weekend with his girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). Subsequently, you’ll see a violent escape from a prisoner transport by Dominick (Kevin James) and his cronies Apex (Robert Maillet), Cole (Ryan McDonald), and Hammond (James McDouglas). And then you can get ready for an hour of unabashed terror and bloody butchery.

 

Becky

 

Don’t take it too seriously.

Frankly, the film isn’t really inventive and will certainly not stand out among other similar creations. But I have to admit I had a lot of fun watching it. It was a moment of relaxation and a relief for me to forget the Corona crap briefly. Perhaps also because of its simplicity and the straightforward approach this film had to offer. You actually know in advance what the outcome will be. As I mentioned in my review about “Eye for an eye”. You can be certain that the nasty gang members will get the short end of the stick. The movie “Becky” comes with one condition. You have to ignore the fact that a 13-year-old girl is able to wipe the floor with four grown-up guys. In short, if you don’t take this film too seriously, it’s digestible. Otherwise, you’ll only be annoyed by it.

 

Becky

 

Kevin James looks scary.

Most notable appearance is of course Kevin James who makes a huge career switch by portraying a relentless neo-Nazi. It took me a while to realize it was the “Kevin Can Wait” actor. Someone who usually appears in light-hearted television shows and belongs in yet another Sandler film. The transformation from an oh-so-cozy, over-friendly (Santa-ish) guy to a chilly, beastly Third Reich supporter (and member of some Brotherhood that defends the Aryan race) with an imposing, shaggy beard, is impressive. Opposite these behemoths (especially the aforementioned Apex) is this skinny thirteen-year-old girl with her pink backpack, glitter-decorated smartphone, and a similar bear hat as Jack wore in “Room”. Not exactly a worthy opponent for these four brutes. But then the aspect of improbability comes into play and the gentlemen realize that they were a bit wrong about this girl.

 

Becky

 

Unanswered questions.

Yes, “Becky” is a bit of a nonsense movie. The reason why these four idiots terrorize this family also remains a mystery. And what’s the relationship between the gang members? Like Dominick and Apex. Do they have family ties? And is the passing of her mother the only reason why Becky resolutely draws the card of revenge? Or does she have a more sinister past? But despite the lack of character development and substantive explanations, I’d say that “Becky” is an entertaining gory thriller. An adult “Home Alone” version where creative assault weapons are manufactured resulting in painful-looking (A hidden metaphor by coincidence) injuries. It’s not one of the best revenge movies, but also not one of the worst.

 

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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Politically Charged Controversial Trailer For ‘The Hunt’ Has Arrived

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

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Genre:

Thriller, Action

Release Date:

March 13, 2020

Director:

Craig Zobel

Cast:

Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin, Ethan Suplee, J.C. MacKenzie, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley

Plot Summary:

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

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