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‘Knuckleball’ Review

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Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : R
Director: Michael Peterson

Cast:
Michael Ironside
Munro Chambers
Luca Villacis

Looking back, it’s hard to explain just how big Home Alone was when it came out. Released in 1990, not only did it turn Macaulay Culkin into a superstar but it would be the highest grossing live action comedy for over two decades. It would not only spawn four sequels but multiple imitators with movies like Baby’s Day Out, Dennis the Menace and 3 Ninjas all trying, and failing, to catch lightning in a bottle. It wasn’t just family films that tried either. You can see glimpses of Home Alone DNA in a variety of different movies, particularly in the horror genre. With an array of death traps and home invasions scary movies like Better Watch Out, Don’t Breathe and The Collector are basically Home Alone on speed. It’s practically a horror subgenre by itself at this point adn latest to follow in the footsteps of Kevin McCallister is Henry in Knuckleball.

Due to an unexpected funeral 12-year-old Henry (Luca Villacis) is sent to stay with his grandfather Jacob (Michael Ironside). Living on a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere the two are surrounded by forest with the only person nearby being weird neighbor Dixon (Munro Chambers). Not getting along at first the two begin to bond over a shared love for baseball. Things between the two are looking up when Jacob suddenly dies. With nowhere else to turn Henry is forced to go to Dixon who has secrets of his own.

 

 

Opening with a Shining-esque overhead shots of the icy plains of Canada I knew my expectations were off. Mostly known for Canadian comedies, this is director Michael Peterson’s first feature length foray into horror. Surprising considering how good he is at building tension. With co-writer Kevin Cockle the two put together a unique take on the home invasion thriller. Instead of focusing on the horror aspects they focus more on developing our three main characters. In the first half of the film relying on mystery and the innate uncomfortableness of staying alone with a grandparent. They may be scenes we have seen before but Peterson makes them feel new again. With Knuckleball taking place in such a desolate location the movie mainly focuses on Henry, Jacob and Dixon who each bring something different to the movie.

In his first lead role young Luca Villacis is more than holds his own. Relying less on a verbose script for exposition, Villacis uses subtle mannerisms and vocal inflections to sell the situation masterfully. Little touches like Jacob insisting he touch everything and going into locked rooms are the kinds of direction that make the character feel real. It’s especially impressive to watch the young man play off of Michael Ironside. A veteran of the horror world Ironside brings the kind of tough and grizzled performance audiences have grown to love. And with that voice he could make reading the phone book intimidating. Yet behind and his rough demeanor we see a grandfather who wants to know his grandson. It’s a surprisingly touching turn for an actor best known for Scanners and Starship Troopers.

 

 

Perhaps the most impressive performance is Munro Chambers as Dixon. More known for the comedic gorefest Turbo Kid and teen drama Degrassi these roles are easily forgotten as he plays creepy neighbor Dixon. Clearly not all there he is able to go from nice (if off kilter) to a major threat at the drop of a hat. Straddling the line between insanity and over-the-top the way Chambers plays Dixon is just what Knuckleball needs.

After watching Knuckleball, I couldn’t help but think about how perfect the title was. Despite being one of the most well-known pitches in baseball it’s known for being a bit slower and unpredictable just like this movie. While the comparison to Home Alone is obvious there’s more to it than that. Instead of being a typical home invasion movie it is more a performance-based movie and all three leads deliering captivating preformances. Some predictability aside Knuckleball is a tightly wound thriller that will have you engrossed from beginning to end.

 

Rating 7.5/10
Links : IMDB

Knuckleball is now available on VOD, Digital HD and In Theaters Now

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Finally Official – ‘Matrix 4’ Is On The Way With Original Cast

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“Lana is a true visionary, a singular and original creative filmmaker”

This time it’s for real! This is not a drill “Matrix” fans. Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich has confirmed, the computer generated world of ‘The Matrix’ will be returning to the big screen. The original cast will be reprising their roles, while Lana Wachowski will be sharing co-writing duties with Aleksander Hemon and David Mitchell. Lana will also be directing the future installment, with no word as of yet if her sister Lilly Wachowski will sign on. But chances are, that may change once things get further underway. Toby Emmerich released an official statement on the project, here’s what he had to say:

“We could not be more excited to be re-entering ‘The Matrix’ with Lana. Lana is a true visionary, a singular and original creative filmmaker, and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in ‘The Matrix’ universe.”

Though Plot details haven’t been worked out. Lana Wachowski shed some light as to the direction we can expect:

“Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now. I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends.”

Keanu Reeves is set to return as Neo with Carrie-Anne Moss reprising her role as the infamous computer hacker, Trinity. How this will all work has yet to be revealed, considering both characters met their demise at the end of the current trilogy. There’s is also no word yet on whether  Laurence Fishbourne will return as the rebellion  leader, Morpheus.

Production is set to begin 2020

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Comic Book Movies

Joaquin Phoenix Stares Into Your Soul As The Joker Via “il venerdì di repubblica” Cover

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“Cinematic achievement on a high level.”

Director Todd Phillips has gone on the record stating, his film is going to piss off hardcore comic book fans. The upcoming ‘Joker’ movie will not follow any comic book plot lines or continuity for the villain, and will in fact be its very own stand alone film. With that being said, the movie is already garnering praise from select audiences. Cameron Bailey, co-head and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, went on record with Toronto Sun, hailing the film as “Cinematic achievement on a high level.” Bailey continued on, saying:

“First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.”

Bailey, also went on to say, the film is “Very cinematic,” for a low budget feature.

“Has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then. It’s gritty in its look, it has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That’s why it’s a Gala.”

Check out the newest ‘Joker’ magazine cover via il venerdì di repubblica.

‘Joker’ hits theaters October 4, 2019

 

 

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Brightburn – This Superhero Parody Peppered With SF And Horror Elements Is Simply Sublime

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Take.. The.. World.
Take the world.

Superhero-movie-haters unite. Run to a nearby movie theater to see this movie. Because “Brightburn” is the ultimate anti-superhero-film of all time. The moment I realized which direction it was going, I cursed myself because after seeing “Avengers: Endgame” I’d decided to have a little sabbatical. I was going to avoid movies with characters in tightly fitting latex suits and superhuman powers. But as it became clear that it wasn’t what I expected, my enthusiasm grew all the more. My enthusiasm for films such as “Deadpool” and “Ant-Man” (because of a touch of whimsy and the originality) was effortlessly overtaken by this highly original anti-superhero film. And if one also mixes the superhero genre (of which they are continuously producing sequels and prequels) with my all-time favorite genre horror, it simply can’t go wrong. I am indeed enthusiastic, yes. Extremely enthusiastic!

 

Brightburn

 

Is it a plane? A bird? Is it Superman? Uh, nope.

It all starts as a sort of Superman parody or reboot (another favorite Hollywood term these days). Here too, we meet a young couple who have been trying to have a child for years. Even spicy lingerie doesn’t do wonders because farmer Kyle Bryer (David Denman) (and yes, the location is again a big farm) is rather clumsy, which means that his watch always gets stuck in his wife’s hair. BANG! Before they realize it, some object out of space crashes nearby. Right in their back yard. And as if it’s the most normal thing, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) finds an innocent, sweet little guy in this comet or spacecraft. They adopt him instantly and call him Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). All peace and light, you think. Until the boy realizes that something is wrong. Especially when he tries to start the lawnmower and suddenly the thing ends up at the neighbors. A few meadows further.

 

Brightburn

 

An evil superhero with an attitude.

With the well-known figure Superman, the parents didn’t waste any time and told young Superman to keep his growing powers under control and only use it to help humans. In the 70s this fact was acceptable. But after the trillionth superhero movie, that concept really starts to sound boring. And that’s where “Brightburn” starts to deviate substantially. As soon as it seems as if puberty hits Brandon, and no it’s not about hair growth and other side-effects, and he wanders around the farm at night looking for something that seems to call him, it becomes clear that a constructive parent-child conversation is not really useful. When Brandon feels disadvantaged, it’s best to stay away from him. The consequences of a tantrum can be disastrous. You could end up flying into a closet or have a crushed hand as a result. So they are stuck with a teenage son with issues who has superpowers. A “Dennis the Menace” with an attitude. You don’t have to be smart to know what’s going to happen next.

 

Brightburn

 

Not really horror.

Let’s talk about the horror part. For those who are only used to super-hero films, it will be a shock. For a seasoned horror fanatic, it’s all just ordinary. It’s not terrifying or too bloody. There are some excellent gore effects in it, though. I personally found it simply exciting at certain moments. Exciting as in how the story will continue and end. And they even tried to tackle that part in an original and quirky way. The majority of blockbusters always have such a predictable outcome. In a western, the bad guys always eat dust in the end. A romcom has a happy ending in most cases. And even superheroes on the verge of despair will eventually prevail (such as The Avengers, for example). If you expect this to happen here as well, you’re absolutely wrong. But there’s one thing I’m sure of. The marketing department of Marvel already smells money. I bet they are planning a sequel already with The Avengers trying to beat the unstoppable Brandon.

 

Brightburn

 

Excellent acting.

About the acting, I can be brief and concise. Simply excellent. Especially the mother and son bonding was worked out and portrayed in a proper way. The desperation and motherly love that Elizabeth Banks radiates is simply wonderful to see. And even though Brandon seems incomparably innocent at times, the moment his evil ego pops up, he can conjure up a frightening and impressive facial expression. It’s just a shame he didn’t focus his anger on the annoying class bully as well.

 

Brightburn

 

I repeat it once more: a brilliant film.

Brightburn” definitely will end up in my top list this year. The only downside was the duration. Far too short of course. But otherwise, this superhero parody, peppered with SF and horror elements, is simply sublime. The fact this film has a go-against-the-rules attitude and the idea of a superhero who doesn’t care about humanity is a pleasant and refreshing change compared to the commercial one-size-fits-all releases nowadays. Just something as simple as Brandon’s costume. Has anyone ever wondered who actually made the Spiderman suit? Or did Peter Park have a Sewing and knitting diploma? Brandon uses a piece of woolen textile and a bedspread as equipment. Ingenious anyway. As brilliant as the film itself. I keep repeating it. It is hoped that it will stay with this unique film and that they won’t come up with a miserable number of sequels.

 

My rating 9/10
Links: IMDB

 

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