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Genre:

Drama, War

Release Date:

June 12, 2020

Director:

Spike Lee

Cast:

Chadwick Boseman, Jean Reno, Paul Walter Hauser, Delroy Lindo, Jasper Pääkkönen, Clarke Peters, Van Veronica Ngo

Plot Summary:

rom Academy Award® Winner Spike Lee comes a new joint: the story of four African American Vets – Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) – who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature – while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.

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Drama

Proximity (2020)

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Paging ET, please phone home.

 

Proximity” had potential. The film partially redeemed this but then blatantly fails on a completely different level. With a film about alien abduction, there’s one particular expectation wherewith the film stands or falls. And that’s the look of the spacecraft with which those green men fly around. In many SF movies with the same subject, this is either shown only briefly. Or the design and special effects are so pitifully bad that you wished those alien tourists instantly have an engine problem and crash down with their ugly flying saucer. But when Isaac (Ryan Mason) early in the movie sees the spinning vehicle fly above him, I noticed his approving look. Not because he liked the design, but because his conviction was confirmed in this way. Me on the other hand, probably had an approving look because the spaceship looked really good. Unfortunately, this fact alone could not save the film.

 

Proximity

 

Slick movie.

Believe me. Cinematographically, this film looks slick. The used special effects clearly show that director Eric Demeusy is no novice. The experience he gained with “Tron: Legacy” as a 3D animator and other projects clearly paid off. So no blurry images with bad special effects. And no situations where you get the feeling that the spacecraft were hung on a silk threads to move them that way. Even the aliens looked fine and credible. So in terms of imaging, it’s okay. And this even during the entire film.

 

Proximity

 

Scotty, beam me up.

I also found the story promising in the beginning. Nerdy looking Isaac (Ryan Masson) who’s convinced aliens exist and looks at computer screens every day to watch bleeps from satellites, almost faints when one day, during a bike ride, a silver flying saucer flies over him. Lucky he has a camera (Betamax model) with him to film the event. He can even capture a “close encounter” with a real Martian. Next, he’s beamed up (just like a genuine Enterprise crew member) and awakens somewhere in a field. Unharmed but with a gigantic 3-day hole in his memory. What follows is a chaotic period for Isaac. A period in which he tries to make clear to the world that he was kidnapped by aliens. And then we get a perfect demonstration of how things are in our society today. One day you’ll be hailed and adored. The next day you are booed, razed to the ground, and buried under reproaches and incriminating allegations.

 

Proximity

 

Uh, what happened to the story?

Till here, the story was still amusing and interesting. The hassle of uploading the video and the subsequent reactions and comments. The invitation by a television program and the disappointment by Isaac. The fuss that arises on the internet and then Isaac’s search for fellow victims and like-minded people. It felt “Goonies” -like and reminiscent of the bygone days when Spielberg scored high with his SF films about “close encounters”. There was even an “E.T.” joke used by the two nerds in the lab. And then halfway through, the film gets a completely absurd twist. “Men in Black” clones suddenly show up. And the film suddenly takes on Star Wars allures. Together with the beautiful Sara (Highdee Kuan), a fellow girl who has experienced something similar, Isaac flees from a mysterious government agency. Zed (Christian Prentice), the phenomenon in Costa Rica, was the most hilarious part of the movie. This whizzkid owns a treehouse in the middle of the jungle (Yeah really!) where he hacks NASA servers. How he can have a connection with the internet there, is a mystery to me. I sometimes have poor reception in my kitchen here. And I’m certain I’m living in that part of the world that’s civilized enough to make sure it’s top-notch. In any case, the story becomes increasingly nonsensical by the minute. Not to mention the denouement where the aliens reveal what they are looking for on earth. Completely laughable.

 

Proximity

 

Admirable low-budget SciFi.

All in all, it’s admirable what they’ve achieved in this low-budget SF. In terms of footage and imagery, the film is simply overwhelming. The special effects look fantastic. There’s also little to complain about the acting itself. Masson’s acting is almost perfect. Highdee Kuan is a perfect addition. And the character Zed is highly entertaining. But unfortunately, it’s especially the storyline that’s below par. I suggest Demeusy hires a professional scriptwriter the next time to support his professional-looking visuals.

 

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Quien a Hierro Mata: This Is Not A Fast Paced Action Hollywood Film

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One harsh word or lack of respect for my father,
and I come here and raise hell.

 

Revenge movies. Nothing’s more fun than watching a blood-curdling film in which a victim, who has been beaten to a pulp or almost tortured to death, resurrects and ruthlessly and cruelly takes revenge on his or her assailants. Revenge films come in different variations and gradations. The only similarity they have is that those who are the cause of all the misery generally get the short end of the stick (except in “Eden Lake”). Revenge films have been in circulation for a long time and yet form a tasteful subgenre. Who remembers “The Toxic Avenger”? A hilarious and bloody film in which a nerd, constantly being bullied by local kids, mutates into a nasty chemical creature that takes revenge in a violent way. Or the controversial film “I Spit on Your Grave“? “Revenge“, “Hard Candy” and “John Wick“? The line is big and always has one outcome: mutilated perpetrator(s) and a victim who leaves the past behind with his/her head held high and determinedly faces a new, carefree future.

 

Quien a hierro mata

 

An avenging angel.

In “Quien a Hierro Mata” (aka “Eye For an Eye”), the protagonist Mario (Louis Tosar) cannot completely let go of the past. Images from that period haunt his mind and everything indicates that this nurse at a senior care facility can never settle for the injustice done to his family. The seemingly calm and easy-going caretaker nevertheless has a bright future ahead of him. His wife Julia (María Vázquez) is pregnant with their first child. Nothing seems to get in the way of happiness. Until one day Antonio Padin (Xan Cejudo), the notorious head of a drug cartel, has decided to exchange prison life for a stay in the retirement home where Mario is employed. Antonio Padin suffers from a terminal illness that slowly paralyzes him. And apparently, the relationship between him and his two sons Toño (Ismael Martinez) and Kike (Enric Auquer) is so sour that he opts for the retirement home rather than waiting for his end at home. By coincidence, there’s a link between Mario and this deteriorating old man that causes Mario to slowly transform from a good-natured person into an avenging angel with a dark plan.

 

Quien a hierro mata

 

Be warned. It’s a slow-burner.

Let me immediately warn the action movie fetishists. This is not a Hollywood film in which the action scenes follow each other at a shockingly fast pace. The film is a real slow-burner, with some violent scenes here and there in the first half. Just to demonstrate that the Padin family aren’t only hard-working entrepreneurs, operating a thriving crab-industry with associated culinary establishments. You’ll see that the traps on their fishing boats can also be used for other purposes. And when the two brothers visit their father in the retirement home, just to report to him about their future plans with Chinese customers, they make sure everybody knows that they are untouchable and feared individuals. Kike in particular is an annoying guy with a short fuse who, even without hesitation, questions his father’s mental health and treats him disrespectfully.

 

Quien a hierro mata

 

Dark and gripping.

Quien a Hierro Mata” is a dark and gripping thriller that excels thanks to its raw realism and the way in which various actors portray it. All credit to Louis Tosar for showing in a solid way how a tragic past (shown through a whole lot of flashbacks) determines how he judges over certain actions. The imposing beard hides every emotion. His character immediately reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix in “You were never really here”. The ius talionis principle that he applies here (hence the film title) is what makes this film more unique compared to other revenge films. This vigilante ensures that the perpetrator undergoes the same treatment under the same circumstances. Let’s put the make-up department in the spotlight as well. Because, the way Antonio is slowly changing looks terrifying. I was just wondering if Antonio Padin noticed what was happening to him.

 

Quien a hierro mata

 

Worthwhile to give it a try.

I admit it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Spanish-language films several times already. After “Aterrados” and “El Hoyo” I also thought this was a successful film. Certainly not a disappointment, after I started watching it on Netflix without any prior knowledge. First of all, you think this is an average revenge movie with the same known storyline. But this soon changes due to the sudden twist and the shocking denouement. It’s wonderful to see how they’ve managed to change the tone of this film from ordinary to moderately chaotic aggressive. The film shows how deep-seated hatred can change a person. It’s not an exceptional film, but it’s relentless and definitely worth watching. I was just wondering one thing. How is it that this retirement home didn’t simply refuse the admission of a known and feared drug lord?

“Quien a Hierro Mata” is now available on Netflix

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Way Back: Thanks To Ben Affleck This Movie Effortlessly Exceeds The Average

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I’m surprised you could keep him out of the bar
long enough to hold practice.

 

There are lots of similar sports movies like “The Way Back“. Moralistic stories about how a trainer manages to bring a floundering team to unprecedented heights. Preferably, the team consists of a few foul-mouthed hotheads who want to impress the others by acting tough. Usually, they have a talent for the sport they practice, but lack of discipline makes them miss constancy. To the annoyance of the appointed coach at that moment. Of course, they are allergic to any type of authoritarian behavior. Until the new coach comes up. Preferably an old sports star who can look back on a successful sports career and who comes to the rescue by using clever pedagogical techniques. First of all, he gives each of the team members a figurative kick in the butt. Suspends the most rebellious pain in the ass (who of course comes back crawling to ask if he can be re-included in the team because the sport is vital for him). Then the grueling training sessions begin in such a way that this bunch of misfits finally starts winning games and slowly propel them to stardom. You saw it in “Coach Carter”, “Slap Shot” and to a lesser extent in “Major League”. “The Way Back” follows this same scenario. Only here the coach is also struggling with his personal demons.

 

The Way Back

 

You’ll always find a reason to start drinking.

I’m not a real Ben Affleck fan. Not that I think he’s a bad actor. Maybe the movie choices he made were a bit unfortunate. With “Daredevil” as the most terrible career choice, in my opinion. But here Affleck shows that he does have acting talent. Perhaps personal life experiences are the reason why he was able to empathize with the role of coach Jack easily. A tormented person who lost everything after a tragic event and sought refuge in drinking. Something Affleck has experience with since he has already admired the inside of a rehabilitation center several times. Probably because of this that the scenes during which he carelessly drinks, look so realistic. As well as the way he behaves when he’s not in a bar. The manipulation, the sneaking around, and the search for excuses. Typical behavior of an addict trying to hide his weakness. “The Way Back” tries to portray this addiction meticulously. If you see the umpteenth beercan disappear from the fridge while a spare one is already put in the freezer to stay cold, you as a viewer know that Jack is not a social drinker but a problem drinker with a fixed routine.

 

The Way Back

 

Impressive acting in a not so impressive movie.

Like many other film productions, “The Way Back” has been disadvantaged by the Corona pandemic. Had the original release date not been shifted from late 2019 to March this year, the damage would have been limited. Hence Warner Bross’s decision to release this movie directly on various platforms such as iTunes and Prime video among others. Now, I myself don’t consider it a requirement to watch “The way back” in a cinema. Apart from the admirable acting of Affleck, this film is nothing more than an average film that doesn’t impress in terms of originality. It seems as if a pre-printed checklist has been used for this type of film. A group of young people with a wrong attitude and who, as a basketball team, wallows in the role of the underdog. Check! Ex basketball player whose life is in a downward spiral. Check! Miraculous revival of the despised basketball team. Check! Family tragedy that ruined the coach’s life. Check! Obviously a relapse happens. Check! Once again a miraculous resurgence leading to a happy ending. Check! It feels like a three-pointer every time a check is placed on this list.

 

The Way Back

 

Give it a try.

In short. The film won’t win a prize in the category of originality. The already well-trodden paths of previously released sports dramas are followed too carefully. But what Ben Affleck demonstrates here (and I know I’m repeating myself) makes that this movie effortlessly exceeds the average. Only the way and period in which he defeated his demons, felt romanticized. And finally, you should not confuse this film with the 2010 film of the same name about a Polish prisoner who could escape from a Russian gulag with some fellow sufferers. The only similarity the Ben Affleck film has with the latter is that the road followed by the group of young people is also full of obstacles. And giving up is also not an option. So if you run into it anywhere on a VOD channel, give it a try. It’s not really a waste of time.

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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