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The Wall (2017)

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The WallTwo American Soldiers are trapped by a lethal sniper, with only an unsteady wall between them.

Genre : War/Thriller
Country : USA

Cast :
Aaron Taylor-Johnson : Isaac
John Cena : Matthews
Laith Nakli : Juba (Voice)

Director :
Doug Liman

My opinion on “The Wall”

“You Americans.
You think you know it all.
You think it’s simple.
That I am your enemy.
But we are not so different,you and I.”

Ever seen “Mine“? A film about an American marine who accidentally steps on a land mine in the Afghan desert and an entire film he must remain motionless in the same place, until help arrives. “The Wall” shows an almost similar situation. Only this time it takes place in Iraq and the American soldier Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) sits behind the remains of a primitive wall. The only thing you’ll see in this film, is a psychological game between the professional sniper (who we’ll never get to see) and this soldier. Through a captured transmitter, he can communicate with Isaac and at the same time deceive other military personnel.

The Wall

In the crosshairs of an Iraqi sniper.

It’s never really exciting. The only thing Isaac is working on, is finding a way out and ensuring that his partner Matthews (John Cena) won’t be slaughtered mercilessly by the most appropriately entrenched sniper. And this can only be prevented by talking sincere about himself. So the only thing we see a whole hour, is a distraught Isaac who has no water or transmitter at the beginning (And he has a terribly bleeding gunshot wound) talking to the Iraqi sniper, who apparently damn well knows how the American military apparatus works. A politically charged conversation unfolds between the two gentlemen. Discussing war, terrorism and Islam. A Shakespearian word game in which the Iraqi intellectual sounding gunner tries to justify his actions. A psychological game that drives Isaac to despair.

The Wall

A limited film that fascinates.

Despite the fact that the film is limited in all possible ways (one character, one location, no special effects), the film remained extremely fascinating. Only I thought that the behavior of the two soldiers was implausible at a certain moment. I assume those were two trained, experienced soldiers who already had done a number of tours. But when you see the first one wandering towards the oilfield in a casual, worryfree way, it really looks amateurish. And then the way his partner starts running to help him. I guess it’s panic that is to blame and an explanation for his behavior. But besides this sigh-moment, I thought the acting wasn’t so bad. And some will experience the denouement as abrupt and disappointing. I, on the other hand, do like such uncommon endings. It doesn’t need to be a happy ending all the time!

My rating 6/10
Links : IMDB

Action

Lucky Day: Bloody Brutality And Vulgar Language Certainly Was Highly Present

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Purpose for coming to the United States, Mr. Chaltiel?
Uh… Business… Pleasure…
Well, which one is it?
A little bit of both. I take pleasure in my business.

 

These days it’s kind of hype to create reboots or remakes of films from a bygone era. Even though I hate this kind of filmmaking and I see it as easy money, I got enthusiastic about “Lucky Day“. It’s not a reboot or a remake in the strict sense of the word. But the similarities with “Pulp Fiction” are so obvious, I automatically call it the ultimate reboot for this legendary 90s movie. And if there’s one person who could do the job without any problems, it would be Roger Avary, co-writer of “Pulp Fiction“. The only thing you could ask yourself is: “Who was waiting for this?”.

 

Lucky Day

 

Let’s get the stash.

The whole movie is about Red (Luke Bracey), a safecracker, who leaves prison after 2 years and returns to his French-speaking wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and cuddly daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn). He’s determined not to return to his criminal life. He just has a little rainy-day stash hidden away somewhere. The news of his release, however, also reached someone else. None other than Luc Chaltiel (Crispin Glover) personally flew over from France to take revenge on Red. Luc’s brother got killed during a robbery that went completely awry. And Red was part of the gang.

 

Lucky Day

 

“Pulp Fiction” is written all over it.

This movie has “Pulp Fiction” written all over it. It’s a cocktail of various facets that were so characteristic of this milestone in Tarantino’s oeuvre. Chloe’s hair itself looks like a copy of that from Uma Thurman’s. And there is also the overall atmosphere with a matching soundtrack and a mixture of absurd, cartoonish supporting characters. But it’s mainly about extreme violence and bloody scenes. So expect some like-watermelons-exploding heads and slashed throats. And all this is bathed in black, sometimes vulgar, humor. Crispin Glover as a car thief, who drives his car twice over the victim. His explosive confrontation with a police patrol. The absurd gunfight in the bar. The psychopathic way in which he causes a bloodbath during an art exhibition. Perhaps it’s not so impressive these days since we are overwhelmed with films full of extreme hard violence. But it still was enjoyable.

 

Lucky Day

 

Crispin Glover’s acting is spot on.

Without a doubt, Crispin Glover’s character is the most eye-catching part of this film. You always wanted to know how the weird and silly George McFly (Yep, father of Marty McFly in “Back to the Future“) would look like as a ruthless, brutal, psychopathic assassin with a heavy French accent? Well, this is your chance. Crispin Glover brilliantly parodies this. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but still extremely great. And extremely violent. For many, the French accent will be annoying. Yes, it might be even slightly offensive towards our French fellow men. To me, it felt like a theatrical parody. I read somewhere that you could compare him with Pepé Le Pew. But in the end, this extremely exaggerated accent suited his exorbitant attitude as the well-dressed, capricious murderer who’s looking for revenge.

 

Lucky Day

 

More absurd characters.

“Lucky Day” has more of those absurd characters in store. For instance, Tomer Sisley as the eccentric bartender with a Hitler mustache. An over the top absurd role. Or the foul-mouthed probation officer Ernesto Sanchez (Clifton Collins Jr.). Compared to these characters, Red and Chloe can be called normal. Even though Chloe is rather eccentric when looking at her artworks. Art inspired by prison walls.

 

Lucky Day

 

This movie isn’t boring.

For me “Lucky Day” certainly wasn’t a boring movie. It was the perfect material to fill up free leisure time. The comparison with “Pulp Fiction” is made quickly. But admittedly it can’t match this brilliant film. For that, it lacks panache and originality. The brilliant renditions of Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman are of course matchless. And on a narrative level, “Lucky Day” must of course also recognize its superior. The harsh and relentless style full of violence, loop. But we were able to experience that already 25 years ago. It seems as if time stood still for Avary. Just like I still love music from the 80s. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not?

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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HORROR

The Curse of La Llorona: An Interesting Film For Newbies To Start With The Horror Genre

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LooYou used him as bait?
No. I used you all as bait.

 

When I visited Eurodisney near Paris for the first time years ago (it seems like centuries ago), I was so overwhelmed and enchanted by the atmosphere and everything there was to admire. I literally hovered through this park for three days and had the time of my life. At the beginning of this year, I visited the park again (this time with my two young kids) and it was 3 days of fun again. However, it was far from the same as that first time. If you have been somewhere six times you know what to expect and you are no longer so impressed by it. The same applies to this film “The curse of La Llorona“. A horror movie that is part of the “The Conjuring” universe.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

 

You should be scared.

The entity La Llorona in itself is fairly well developed. But you could also say that about the evil nun that scared you in “The Nun“. I saw the latter at the beginning of this year and to be honest I found it rather disappointing. After two “The Conjuring” films, a number of “Annabelle” films and “The Nun” it starts to look like mass production. Now, it’s a golden rule that globally well-known brands always do the same thing. And that’s not to deviate from its formula for success. It ensures that people aren’t disappointed because they know the product very well. But with a product such as horror films, this can also lead to a worn-out formula. A worn off formula in such a way that it becomes boring and far from scary. And that’s exactly what you need in a horror. Creepy moments so that fear grabs you by the throat.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

 

Behave or La Llorona comes to get you.

Not that I’ve ever experienced a feeling of fear while watching a horror. But this looked weak. I was looking at it as if I was watching the umpteenth repeat of “America got Talent”. Uninterested and numb. The La Llorona phenomenon isn’t really remarkable. After a while, you come to know that it’s about a woman who drowned her children in a moment of madness and afterward killed herself. The legend grew into a sort of parenting trick that was used to teach children some discipline. I can already imagine how old grandmothers admonish their grandchildren with a standard sentence such as “If you don’t behave, La Llorona comes to get you.” Terrifying for the children. Not so impressive for an adult.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

 

Lots of jumpscares.

The Curse of La Llorona” is full of jumpscares. That in itself isn’t a problem. At least when they are presented decently and preferably also in an original way. The jumpscares here, however, are so clichéd that you already know in advance where they will be used. The most intense and successful scene is the bathtub scene. Claustrophobic and effectively put together. It reminded me of “The Drownsman” (even though you can’t call that movie excellent). And maybe the involvement of Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) can be called original. He’s not an average exorcist like the Warren couple in “The Conjuring“. I tend to think of him as more of a medicine man who performs voodoo-like rituals and lavishly sprinkles tree seeds and puts down a whole bunch of candles, just to stop La Llorona. To be honest I thought it was pretty funny. The moment when Olvera picks up his samba balls. And certainly his bone-dry reply in the end.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

 

Not a successful horror.

No, you can’t call this film successful. “The Nun” wasn’t that great, but I still place it above this film if I had to arrange them in a list. Perhaps it’s an interesting film for newbies to start with the horror genre. As a warm-up to discover the better stuff, as it were. For the seasoned horror film fan, it’s more likely to be a disappointment. So, I kinda have my doubts about the upcoming episodes from the “The Conjuring” Universum.

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Adopt a Highway: Melancholic And Endearing Film That Will Touch A Sensitive Nerve

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When you commit a third violent crime,
you will be put away and put away for good.
Three strikes, and you are out.

 

Every now and then you come across such an unknown, idiosyncratic film, which was probably made with a modest budget and for which no huge marketing budgets have been made available. A film you don’t really expect too much from. That’s “Adopt a Highway“. It’s not a cheerful or action-rich film. I really expected a depressing drama. And even though there’s a moving moral in it, you can say there’s also another hidden message in this film. A message of hope, compassion and modesty.

 

Adopt a highway

 

Three strikes.

The introduction shows how Russell Millings (Ethan Hawke) leaves prison after being imprisoned for 21 years. Reluctantly. Somewhat anxious and timid. A man who’s alienated from society and who struggles to keep up with the contemporary pace. Someone who has never used a mobile phone, the internet or e-mail. And all thanks to a short-sighted policy in which someone is sentenced to a heavy sentence when he gets involved in something for the third time. No matter how small the criminal offense is. The so-called “three strikes” legislation. In Russell’s case, it is about owning a few grams of marijuana in the state of California. Something that has become virtually legal after those 21 years. An unreasonable punishment that ensured that he wasn’t given the opportunity to develop into a decent citizen.

 

Adopt a highway

 

Ethan Hawke’s brilliant performance.

Ethan Hawke probably demonstrates his best acting performance here. The way he plays Russell is simply breathtaking. He’s in the spotlight almost constantly. And his clumsy way of conversing and interacting with others is simply sad and pitiful. It’s not clear whether Russell used to be mentally deficient from a young age already or if he got numb from the years of imprisonment. In any case, he’s treated by the official authorities as insignificant and is left to himself a bit. He tries to live an honest life and tries to avoid following the wrong path again. A simple life where he earns a living as a dishwasher in a fast-food chain and sleeps in a motel. Until he discovers the adorable Ella (Savannah Sucher) in a garbage container.

 

Adopt a highway

 

A baby’s gratitude.

Even though from the outset he realizes that it’s almost impossible for him to take care of a baby, he still hesitates to hand over the lovely baby to the authorities. What follows are touching moments that he experiences with the few-month-old Ella. His ignorance about taking care of a baby and the sense of responsibility that he suddenly experiences, take away the attention of the depressing life that he led until then. Even though Ella’s discovery brings a turning point in Russell’s life, this wasn’t the central theme for me. This helpless and innocent little girl shows gratitude in a spontaneous way. No disinterest, impatience or incomprehension as adults treat him. The most emotional scene is the one on the beach where Russell tells a part of his life story.

 

Adopt a highway

 

A second chance.

Adopt a Highway” is a melancholic and endearing film that will touch a sensitive nerve with many viewers. Well, in my case it did. Some will call it a corny ending. I thought it was a logical conclusion. An example of humanity. It’s also a film about getting a second chance in life. I was surprised by the Blumhouse logo and I already assumed that this would be a very sinister movie. That’s certainly not the case. The explanation for the Blumhouse connection lies with the director Logan Marshall-Green who appeared last year in the Blumhouse production “Upgrade“. “Adopt a Highway” is, therefore, his debut as a director. And as far as I’m concerned he can certainly direct such a gem again. I’m ready for it.

You can see “Adopt a Highway” on Vudu, iTunes and Amazon.com

 

My rating 8/10
Links: IMDB

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