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Drama

Man down (2015)

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In a post-apocalyptic America, former U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer searches desperately for the whereabouts of his son, accompanied by his best friend and a survivor.

Genre : Drama/Thriller
Country : USA

Cast :
Shia LaBeouf : Gabriel Drummer
Jai Courtney : Devin Roberts
Kate Mara : Natalie Drummer

Director :
Dito Montiel

“So, anytime I want to say I love you, what am I going to say to you?
Man down.”

Man down” is a terribly underrated film in my opinion. No, it’s not a post-apocalyptic SF movie like there have been so many in recent years (both excellent and bad). And no, the main theme is not how a marine survives a tour in Afghanistan and returns as an outright war hero (as in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk“). The entire film is a mixture of three different timelines. Timelines that swing around a specific incident. An incident that had such an impact on Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) that his vision about reality changed completely. The whole intent only becomes clear after the revelation in the end. And to be honest, I was a bit out of my depth. Even without the terrible statistics that were shown during the credits. To be honest, this was the only thing that bothered me. For me this is just used to strengthen the dramatic aspect.

Man down

I guess this movie is plain horrible.

To be honest, as prevention I’ve hesitated a long time to watch this film because of the rather serious criticism that circulated about it. When reading the quotes of digital articles, you’ll lose the will to watch this seemingly horrible film : “Man down is a Cliche-Ridden Mess“, “A meandering mystery“, “A disappointing hodgepodge of ideas and styles” and also “A convoluted tangle of idiotic timelines“. And the fact that only one entry ticket was sold at the premiere in the U.K. (I’ve read it here), wasn’t a good sign either. On the other hand, maybe this shows how impressionable the English are. Or does this say something about the taste of these always counter-acting islanders?

Man Down

3 Stories for the price of one .

“Man down” is an atypical war movie. The main topic is about the psychological damage caused to a soldier due to a traumatic experience. Many viewers will probably get crazy from the back and forth jumping between the different timelines. The first storyline deals with the family life of Gabriel and the start of his training as a marine which was recommended by his best friend Devin (Jai Courtney). Then there’s the Afghan storyline where there’s also a bit of switching from the battle and “the incident”, to the therapeutic sessions with Captain Peyton (Gary Oldman). Finally, there’s also a futuristic part. A future where the U.S. suffered from a devastating war and where Gabriel, along with Devin, traverses the ruined city in search of his son Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell). Sometimes it was difficult to follow. In hindsight, I have to admit that it’s brilliantly put together. The three stories are ingeniously interwoven and grow together towards the redeeming denouement.

Man down

The underlying message hits you like a sledgehammer.

Most likely this film will be an abomination for the impatient moviegoer. It seems as if nothing special happens for a long time. But it’s worth it to be patient for a little while longer. Even though I had a little hunch about the final outcome, it was still a surprise. And not only the underlying story appealed to me. I also appreciated the decent acting performances of Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Charlie Shotwell and Kate Mara. Of course, “The Deer Hunter“, “Coming Home” and “Jacob’s Ladder” are superior when it comes to films that handle the topic about PTSD. Maybe the story confuses. Perhaps it was an attempt to represent the psyche of such a person. The call to provide such help to those who suffer from PTSD is well-founded. But lets not forget about all those other individuals who go through a similar thing due to a different kind of traumatic experience.

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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Crime

The Untouchables – A Retrospective Look

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I watched this in honour of Sean Connery who sadly passed away the day before. It must be 10 years since I have watched this, and I had forgotten how brilliant it actually was.

What is often overlooked with ‘The Untouchables’ is just how emotional it is in parts, from Ness (Kevin Costner) meeting the mother of a girl blown up by a cafe bomb to the touching climax between Ness and Stone (Andy Garcia). It is a film that is genuinely upsetting to see the end, you would be quite happy to spend more time with these people.

It is also undoubtedly a film about friendship and that is where the late great Sean Connery stands out from the cast. As supposedly past it beat cop Malone, he strikes as a man of lonely isolation, just trying to get through every shift alive. He is at first suspicious of Ness but soon warms to what Ness is trying to achieve and there the bond between the two starts. Malone’s relationship with Stone gets off to a less auspicious start but by the end of the film, the relationship produces one final emotional wallop that we all deeply feel. Throw in accountant Oscar Wallace, played for the comic relief by Charles Martin Smith and we have four disparate men bonding over their end goal, to catch and see justice brought again crime lord Al Capone, (played with menace by Robert DeNiro).

There is so much to admire here, some of the setpieces are simply astonishing, the stakeout and subsequent battle on the Canadian border are sensationally choreographed, and a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin is nerve shreddingly executed. The violence is brutal and shocking at times and as stated previously the deaths are graphic and in one particular case deeply moving.

Kevin Costner was a star on the rise at this point, with big hits like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Dances With Wolves,’  ‘JFK’ and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, he is excellent as the clean-cut family man Ness. A young Andy Garcia is impressive as the sharpshooting Stone, but this is Connery’s film. It’s an exceptional performance filled with guile, wisdom and what is apparent from the get-go, anger. He would win an Academy Award for this film and few could argue against it.

Its an incredibly neat and tidy film, it never outstays its welcome or gets too bogged down in courtroom showdowns. It’s gritty and powerful and a reminder of just how good an actor and phenomenal screen presence Connery was. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Sir Sean Connery 25/8/1930 – 31/10/2020 – A true screen icon

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Comedy

On the Rocks (2020)

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You know what’s great about her?
She doesn’t talk. She just listens.
That sounds perfect for you.

 

Life is full of unexpected turns. As an 18-year-old, I rented the adult cartoon “Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle” just for fun. Probably because of the titillating vamp on the cover, lying naked on a huge platter and carried by figures that looked like penises. No one could suspect that a voice actor in this cartoon would become one of my most popular actors. If there’s one comedian who manages to make me chuckle without any problem, it’s Bill Murray. Like in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”. Or the incomparable film “Groundhog Day”. However small his role may be in a feature film, he always manages to create an unforgettable scene, such as in “Zombieland” for example. Put Murray in a horror, and his typical way of acting makes it a completely different experience. Just watch “The dead don’t die” and you’ll know what I mean. In short, a versatile actor who takes a film to a higher level with his contribution.

 

 

Lost in Translation.

This year I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the movie “Lost in translation”. A film directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of) with Bill Murray and the very young Scarlett Johansson in the leading roles. Even though there was something slightly comical lurking beneath the surface of this film, the subject matter was far from comical. A film about two individuals who are right in the middle of an identity crisis. A film about love and loneliness. Loneliness not only because of the life situation they both find themselves in, but also because of the fact that they are in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture, and general way of life. Two lost souls who discover, sense, and encourage each other. I admit, I was moved after seeing this masterful film. Finally, after a long time a film that rocked my socks off. A thought-provoking film that’ll resonate for a pretty long time. Yes, some movies do that to me.

 

 

A wild search for the truth.

And then 17 years after the release of this magisterial film, we get a renewed collaboration between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. “On the Rocks” is not as magical as “Lost in Translation“. But somewhere deeply hidden it does have points of contact with the latter. Here, too, Laura (Rashida Jones) is in the middle of a crisis. Both in terms of her marriage and her writing career. The suspicion that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) just pretends to have lots of work since starting his own company, just to cover up an affair, grows stronger. And writing a new book isn’t easy either. The day she tells her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charismatic wealthy art dealer with an untameable flirtation habit, about her suspicions, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the case with full dedication. Before Laura realizes it, she is embroiled in a wild search for the truth.

 

 

Murray nails it.

On the rocks” isn’t such a depressing and melancholic story as “Lost in translation“. There’s more humor in it. How another mother at school tells Laura every morning about her love life. The interesting facts about human behavior and the evolution of relationships between men and women Felix tells about every time unexpectedly. The wild chase in a “not so suspicious-looking” red, noisy convertible through the streets of New York. Perhaps it’s rather light, uncomplicated humor. Still, it’s subtle at the same time. The chemistry between Laura and her father feels unforced and authentic. And this won’t come as a surprise: Bill Murray nailed it once more. He demands full attention every time he comes into the picture. His characteristic acting and the way in which he can charm random people with his smooth talk is simply superb. And it’s not just the female population that falls for his smooth-talking. The way he manages to turn a police officer’s mood from being reprimanding to being helpful is just sublime.

 

One more time.

“On the rocks” is about marital troubles, a complicated father-daughter relationship, and also about how people get lost in the turbulent and chaotic society in which they live. It’s not another masterpiece of Coppola, but surely it’s another successful cooperation between Coppola and Murray. I quietly hope that they will work together again in the future.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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