OLD (2021)

Written for the screen & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Based on the graphic Novel “SANDCASTLE” By Pierre-Oscar Levy & Fredrik Peters
Cinematography: Michael Gioulakis
Editor: Brett M. Reed 

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krepis, Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Daviditz, Aaron Pierre 

A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. 


I can admit lately M Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who has gotten more interesting with age. I loved UNBREAKABLE but was never really hooked by any of his other films until THE VISIT came around and truly left me transfixed.

This is a movie that is good entertainment even though its story night feels far-fetched for some. Keep in mind this is a movie meant to enjoy and keep your interest. As the film goes along it manages to do that with some shocks, twists, and turns. 

The exotic locale is one of His first films set outside of Philadelphia, his hometown even if the main character’s family is from there. Even if filmed during the pandemic this is the perfect film for watching as it seems inspired by it. Even if this film is based on a graphic novel written years before.

The film is an ensemble even though we mainly follow one family: the parents and kids. How they are changing and reacting and we see others change also. Even though the title and trailers give away the major plot. This is a good film to go in and discover.

As yes there are some over-the-top elements and some do unintentional camp which seems to be something of a regular occurrence in his films. 

This film seems inspired as an either overlong TWILIGHT ZONE episode, a less technical BLACK MIRROR or inspired by LOST. The later of which really hits home with a similar cast member Ken Leung 

Abby Lee’s character seems to always have the worst fate in movies she is in. As she has the most memorable scene in this film that is done with special effects and similarly in NEON DEMON. She has scenes of grotesque violence. She is a sight to see here and comes back hard later in the film. In one of the most truly terrifying scenes. 

As an ensemble, you can already pick who is most likely to be the off-centered crazy one eventually. Just as you can usually predict who will be the victims. The only mystery is when and how. Which might be why most of the cast seems to be foreign actors as too many recognizable names and faces would only leave us to guess more. Whereas here the actors mostly come with no baggage. 

The math of aging doesn’t always seem to match up, but the actors’ performances are always believable and heartfelt. 

There are certain aspects that are easy to predict but the film does offer what seem to be what some might expect exclusively from writer/Director Shamalayan: a twist and a certain darkness. Though I must say that as dark as his material can get there is usually an uplifting ending or an element of one for the characters in the long run.

The ending offers a good explanation that could easily have been something that most could see happening. 

This movie is best viewed without any expectations. Shyamalan’s style is very smooth when it comes to framing, Camerawork, and presentation. Over the years he has maintained twists but they seem less forced and expected. They now feel more natural with the rest of the film. Not necessarily hinging on it as in the past. As his films feel more than that these days. They feel more well-rounded.

By the end this feels like a fun guilty pleasure filled with chills.

Grade: C+

THE TRIP (2021)

Directed By: Tommy Wirkola
Written By: Tommy Wirkola, Nick Ball & John Niven
Cinematography: Matthew Weston
Editor: Patrick Larsgaard

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Aksel Hennie, Atle Antonsen, Christian Rubeck, Andre Eriksen, Nils Ole Oftebro, Stig Frode Henriksen

A dysfunctional couple head to a remote cabin to reconnect, but each has intentions to kill the other. Before they can carry out their plans, unexpected visitors arrive and they face a greater danger.


This works as a modern-day spin on the film WAR OF THE ROSES only not as epic and in less time. Not to mention a lot more gruesome. As it takes place generally over a weekend and in one location mainly, a cabin 

As the couple plots, the other’s demise with traps and numerous set-up’s even accomplices. Their plans are put into disarray once intruders make themselves know who has been watching their interactions. 

The film has a dark and violent sense of humor

The film stays inventive and keeps you guessing as loyalties keep changing and make you wonder if it is out of survival or is the hate truly that real.

So the film keeps shifting and you understand each of the main characters point of view. As the escaped criminals are so hateful that you can’t help but root against them.

The film stays creative by taking these tight and cramped spaces and making them seem more luxurious than they should be as they manage to shoot the scenes more vividly than expected not with crazy angles but with camerawork that feels that there is more action involved then there actually is. 

The male character goes through more physical torture throughout and breaks down quite a bit 

Noomi Rapace is perfect at playing cold one minute and caring the next. Even while managing to always have the same look on her face. 

Knowing it is a dark comedy you expect some kind of violence, but the film gets quite gruesome and gory but manages to always stay humorous and at times hilarious. As it manages to keep surprising you as an audience member. Even when scenes seem to be heading to a familiar place. 

The ending could have been a bit stronger as it plays out as some kind of satire that feels a little bit odd with what we have just watched and gone through with the characters 

Grade: C+

AND SOON THE DARKNESS (2010)

Directed By: Marcus Efron
Written By: Marcus Efron & Jennifer Derwingson
Based on the original screenplay by: Brian Clemens & Terry Nation 
Cinematography: Gabriel Beristain 
Editor: Todd E. Miller 

Cast: Amber Heard, Karl Urban, Odette Annabale, Adriana Barraza, Gia Mantegna

 When two American girls on a bike trip in a remote part of Argentina split up and one of them goes missing, the other must find her before her worst fears are realized.


This film is a remake but you don’t have to have seen the original to figure this film out. At least if you want to.

It’s beyond predictable and also very boring. Most of the scenes which are supposed to be tension-filled and lead us to discoveries when it comes to what is actually going on leave the film dead.

As the scenes are of course misleading but there seems to be an extra emphasis on filming them at arty angles and making them endless and revealing little of anything. 

Watching the film is like watching. Paint dry standing around going over beautiful scenery with a bad music score.

From time to time the filmmakers try to enliven the film by having the two female leads cavort in bikinis. Not naked but in bikinis. There is about 20 minutes devoted to them doing nothing but cavorting in them, in total. Not complaining too much about that as the movie is so bad that, that was the most interesting part of the film.

It’s sad as the two leads are perfect heroines/victims in search of a better villain and film. They both have the talent and beauty but should have been tipped off that the two female leads up to this point have rarely acted in films that one actually can say are enjoyable.

The film’s script plays out like an intriguing drama that wants to be a thriller like a loose or discarded storyline of a police procedural tv show only set more in vacation spots abroad. Or it seems more like the basis of an in-depth expose with reenactments.

The film is just one of those films where you wonder if you’re going to bother remaking the film. Why not make it your own way and better, update with things you couldn’t get away with before. If not, why? Just to put new actors and use updated technology. It’s basically the same and the audience who knows it will know exactly what will happen. So it Offers the audience nothing and a new audience might care very little. 

So this film comes off more as a waste of money, time, talent, and energy. It feels Like a way just to make a quick buck. 

Should have known this might be going downhill when at under 90 minutes. You really want to fast forward through it. 

Grade: F 

THE WITCH (2016)

Written & Directed By: Robert Eggers 
Cinematography By: Jarin Blaschke 
Editor: Louise Ford 
Production Design: Craig Lathrop 
Art Direction: Andrea Kristof 

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Julian Richings, Viv Moore, Sarah Stephens


*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this
review


New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. ‘The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.

The premise is based on America’s first witch hysteria in colonial New England, set 62 years before the infamous “Salem Witch Trials” which occurred in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is one of those films that is more rewarding the less you know about it. So you are free to discover instead of coming in with perceived notions. Stephen King has stated that he was terrified by this film.

This is a film that takes you by surprise. As it is more atmospheric filmmaking. That feels more accomplished than half the horror films that are offered today. 

The film focuses more on community and character. So that it stays intimate the whole time.

The film builds itself up. So that you have to pay attention to exactly know and understand what is going on.

The film sets itself up and its own limits. It takes its time, as this is not a film of jump scares and theatrics. It is trying to tell a story so it won’t offer answers immediately that we know and they have to figure out. When it makes a move it is playing for keeps. As the film is more haunting than scary. As it gives you a sense of unease the whole time.

It continuously goes where you don’t expect it. Especially when you believe you have things figured out and it seems it will go that way. If it does get too familiar the film seems to then go to the more physical actions of the characters as they begin to uncontrollably tremble and weep in their weakness that is never clearly defined.

The film is a period piece and as well as sets and costumes even the dialogue is more said in olden speak than natural dialogue. Which only helps the actors as they are so dedicated to their performances. They are so strong you believe them, their situations, and their reactions to them. Even the child actors’ performances are great and feel natural.

Most of the film’s dialogue and story were based on writings from the time. It feels like a film of its time period. This film seems dipped in tradition and truth as it scarily reveals itself and its nature. It isn’t so much thrilling. It is more full of ideas and imagination. The work of a skilled hand filmmaker. That seems more rooted in the type of films of the ’70s that could be ambiguous and make us question more. Then set out to give the audience visceral thrills. The film was mostly filmed in natural and available light which helps give a natural Spookiness to it

This is a film that uses nature more to reinforce the atmosphere and to provide the horrors of the film. That produces a calm whiny film that never settles again after s certain point in the film.

The movie is beautifully filmed on a smaller scale. Though making the simple and expected scary and haunted. While offering many misdirections, but feels immersed In Something sinister. As when all is revealed it feels worse than anything they could have shown us or that we could imagine and not with pyrotechnics or make-up but with hints that seem more plausible and homegrown. Whose reality is easily imagined and can be felt which makes it all the more devastating. This is a film unafraid to go to the places most mainstream cinema wouldn’t or would shy away from.

The Satanic Temple has endorsed this movie and hosted several screenings of the film. Their spokesperson, Jex Blackmore, addressed the film as “an impressive presentation of Satanic insight that will inform contemporary discussion of religious experience.”

The film manages to give a fresh meaning of horror that feels like a festering Underneath its surface.

It also takes a while to get there but once we do, we get the whole scope of events and what they mean.

The film, unfortunately, was a minor hit at first through strong word of mouth, but audiences expected a more traditional horror film and weren’t prepared for this film which takes it times with its horror and fully takes advantage and explores the ideas it spills forth

Grade: B

BLACK WIDOW (2021)

Directed By: Cate Shortland
Written By: Eric Pearson 
Story By: Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson
Cinematography: Gabriel Beristain 
Editor: Leigh Folsom Boyd & Matthew Schmidt 

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone, O-T Fagbenie, William Hurt, Olga Kurylenko, Nanna Blondell

Natasha Romanoff aka Black  Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.


This film is a prequel of sorts that is almost a last hurrah for actress Scarlet Johansson in the role. Though it gives the character her props. It still manages to be a setup for future marvel series and movies. As we know the eventual fate of Johansson’s character in other Marvel movies.

Though in the marvel universe that keeps setting up a multiverse. They have proven the saying “Never say, Never” 

The film has top-notch action sequences. Though you might find yourself hoping for more grittiness in them and throughout the rest of the film. As it seems like it will be going down and dirty, but comes off almost too polished. The film relies heavily on hand-to-hand action scenes.

At least this movie offers more action and fighting than some other Marvel films. So much so that when there are dialogue scenes the film seems to drag. 

As at heart, this is a full-on espionage film, only simplified and without most of the confusion, those films can bring. 

The film’s theme seems to be that we all must pay for past crimes. Even throughout, the Black widow doesn’t bother to change her look or Into too many outfits. So she always seems barely hidden in plain sight.

It’s clear throughout that the cast is having fun and David Harbour in particular is a riot. One only wishes his HELLBOY performance was as much fun. 

The film’s main weakness is the villain. Who feels hollow. A similar problem was felt in ANT-MAN & THE WASP. Where the villain was weak in terms of creation and really only behind a truly bigger one who was using them. So essentially they are more of a weapon than a character or menace. That is the character of the TASKMASTER in this film. 

The main villain is Ray Winstone here he is good as always playing a villain and is believable in villainous roles usually. Especially ones who are made to be hated and despicable. Where do you believe he really would enjoy assaulting females by punching them in the face. 

It might be that the villain here is too simple and pedestrian compared to the ones we have seen in other Marvel films. Which can be a nice change of pace. Though might have helped if the film was made or brought forth earlier. As of now, it feels like a kind of break from world changers. 

That’s what it is good at. Just as ANTMAN & THE WASP was a more comedic adventure with science. It makes you totally forget the lacking villain. In fact hard to remember the villain from the get-go. 

The film goes for diversity as most of the female assassins under the villain’s plan are women of color. Who he considers as early on it’s noticeable and disturbing that the bench people the heroes fought and killed were mostly minorities. Which is kind of explained with the villains’ attitude towards them yet not the films? 

A little shocked when watching these films that respected actors such as Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz are in it, but these days who isn’t in a superhero or big-budget franchise movie?

In the end the film comes across as trying to be more serious than what it is meant to be pure entertainment and fun. 

Grade: B-

COPSHOP (2021)

Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Kurt McLeod & Joe Carnahan 
Story By: Mark Williams & Kurt McLeod 
Cinematography: Juanmi Azpiroz 
Editor: Kevin Hale

Cast: Frank Grillo, Gerard Butler, Alexis Louder, Toby Huss, Chad L. Coleman, Ryan O’Nan, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Kauai Lyman 

On the run from a lethal assassin, a wily con artist devises a scheme to hide out inside a small-town police station-but when the hitman turns up at the precinct, an unsuspecting rookie cop finds herself caught in the crosshairs.


This film came across as a welcome surprise. At first, I was interested in the cast and director but when I heard that the director was upset at the cut used upon release. I tried to stay away but my curiosity got the better of me.

Though I know director Joe Carnahan is upset with this cut of the movie. If this is the cut that he is disappointed with I would love to see his cut, because this cut constantly breathes life into certain cliches and keeps the action moving and the scenes exciting.

This is why it is upsetting to a degree that Joe Carnahan is one of the best action directors out there. Whose films feel tough, full of life, vital, and still manage to usually be exciting and surprising. Seems to have to try and get by while higher-profile projects he attaches himself to would be great but rarely seem to work out. Even though he does his best with lower budgeted films. There is always that what if. He got bigger budgets. Because he certainly gets the actors and his scripts are always character-driven with the action.

Though you have two action powerhouses on each side by Frank Grillo and a surprisingly likable hardass played by Gerard butler. What really amazes me in the film is the lead played by Alexis Louder, as she is all gusto. She can be rough and tough one minute and funny the next but always in a serious manner. She is no pushover and here she makes a kick-ass action debut that hopefully, we will see her in more of these types of films. As she damn near steals the whole movie. 

It also is nice to see an African American female in an action movie leading a role. She more than holds her own against these two known action movie veterans.

The film has minor weaknesses like it would have been nice to learn a little bit more about Frank Grillo’s character. As both actors are mysterious at first and slowly their true natures come to be shown. It would have been nice if there was still some mystery to them after a bit. As like the main character at first, you don’t know entirely who to trust and it keeps us on our toes.

Eventually, the film becomes a kind of siege movie as it seems everyone wants either into the police station or that certain prison block. Though considering the importance of everything that is on display you would think there would be more involved rather than the few that are eventually shown. 

Although Toby Huss does provide laughs and chills as a rival contract killer who seems to enjoy his job a little too much. Who is as diabolical as he is Goofy. 

While there is plenty of action and double-crosses what works for the film is how much the double-crosses are character-driven and feel more personal overall. Not easily forgettable even as it seems half the characters are at the end of their ropes. 

It manages to be a memorable crime thriller. That is also a lot of fun as it goes along. It never gets boring and uses its one location wisely and to the most extent. As it makes it feel vast rather than secluded. 

Maybe the reason why it is enjoyable is that it has a feel of ’80s and 90’s action. Thrillers with a modern-day flair. So that while not seen it feels like a throwback to those straight to video action films that were little hidden gems because they never tried to be more than what they knew they were. The type that seemed more like B-Movies that would air on HBO on Friday nights as their action offerings of extravaganza. 

This is a film best to go blindly into. Though definitely worth your time. As it doesn’t rewrite anything but works well within its genre and with its time 

Grade: B

SOUTHPAW (2015)

Directed By: Antoine Fuqua 
Written By: Kurt Sutter 
Cinematography By: Mauro Fiore 
Editor: John Refoua 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Knapp, Miguel Gomez, Dominick Colon, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Rita Ora

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from IMDb among other sources In this review

As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.


Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is the strength of the film and provides a kind of new type of performance from him. That makes him seem more brutal and streetwise. Speaks as more of a brawler. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t give him much to work with nor does it rise to the sorts of depth that he tries to showcase. As the film ends up becoming more of a combination of well-intended and dressed-up cliches. That makes the film constantly feel familiar, yet ends up becoming formulaic.

As soon as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson shows up we know all we need to know about his character and where most likely the story is going. As everyone seems to play their character by the book. Which again makes the film come off as paint by numbers. Where here they try to color outside of the edges time to time to throw off where the movie is going. For instance a scene or two where it seems like the film might go the revenge route and quickly drops that side of the story. I am guessing as to his spiritual well-being and beating up the guy’s friend in the ring will be the ultimate revenge?

His wife’s murder subplot is a major point of the film. As it introduces the revenge-justice angle of the story but after that, it never answers many of the questions the audience has. Like what happened to the guy? Was he caught as the entourage seemed to rush him out. Also, I know it is easy to set his opponent up as a major villain, but his look of shock could have opened up the movie dramatically as to what he is going to do about this. Turn his friend in? Hide him And disavow him. That is a major dramatic opportunity dropped. We never even really see it affect him other than that moment and leaves you to wonder if he was just shocked, thinking they were just busting each other’s chops and this fool brought it to a place it didn’t bleed to be or wondering will this hurt his career? As is it only sets up a well-earned rivalry. As it is Gyllenhaal enemies’ camp fault for the death.

So that it seems the film keeps coming up with interesting ideas and abandoning them. To either keep the movie streamlined and moving forward or were scared to go off the path that might have added something new to the mix and made it at least more noteworthy.

It seems the child bonding scenes are here to give the main character something to strive for and keep him going throughout. As well as show his sensitive side and add a heartwarming element to the film.

Strangely the film seemed to be set up to be an awards season challenger and THE boxing movie of the year, but CREED seemed to be the one that no one saw coming to take that title, An underdog itself.

While that takes shape on the side the film adds a child surrogate for him to bond with as it ends up having little to no reason. As it eliminates it later for emotional manipulation, but as it was never built too strongly. So that it just adds up to a challenging scene that asks us to get emotional for something. And someone that wasn’t properly or strongly introduced in the first place. That just seems to reinforce the fact that these are some mean streets. Embrace them, but try to get away from them also. In other words, don’t forget where you came from.

We envy get the grizzled old trainer played by Forest Whitaker whose character is tough but loving and likes a drink now and then.

The film uses the fight as a representation of revenge and redemption. It also encourages the reunion with his child. On that end the film again becomes not only cliche but convenient as the social worker he is dealing with at first seems gruffer with him. Though all of a sudden with no real reason, she does an about-face and is one of his biggest supporters. A dramatic decision that isn’t seen or earned.

The film has plenty of workout scenes to show the brutality of trading but gives the men credit for the toughness and bravado shown. Letting the audience have a more physical reaction to the actors physical (it seems) transformation. I am sure it also helps to convince the audience to be attracted to the star even more.

The boxing scenes are more about brutality and seem to want to come off more as street fights that is how vicious they look at times.

Though the film eventually becomes monotonous as it seems to get in its own way too often that not even the impressive visuals can save.

“Southpaw” is the term given to unorthodox stance (left-handed) boxers. However, Jake Gyllenhaal is right-handed, therefore orthodox. He only adopts the southpaw stance in the final fight, under instruction from his trainer Which even seems like a premeditated conclusion for the title.

As the film was first offered to star Eminem as an unofficial follow-up to 8 MILE. One can see how as the character has many similarities to him as far as the public knows about him and fits the themes of his songs. Closeness to his daughter, growing up on the mean streets, becoming successful and still not being entirely happy, having many enemies who seem to come for him. Having an entourage, going down the road of drugs and booze that seems to almost destroy him, making a comeback. Though Eminem did work on the soundtrack and wrote 2 songs for the film

It’s a film that could have been interesting, but we have seen it way before. Even if it tries to offer a different take then ROCKY a more street smart, tougher and violent one. It just offers nothing new. Other than an opportunity to see a movie star stretch.

Maybe as it seems to try and at the time seek out awards contention. That might be the reason the film feels so stuffed. As it goes overboard in trying to impress the audience. Instead of just being itself and going where the story could naturally lead.

Grade: C-

MY FAVORITE WES ANDERSON MOVIES

MY FAVORITE WES ANDERSON MOVIES 


1. The Royal Tennenbaums

2. Rushmore 

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel 

4. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

5. Moonrise Kingdom 

6. Bottle Rocket 

7. The Darjeeling Limited 

8. The Fantastic Mr. Fox 

9. The French Dispatch 

10. Isle Of Dogs 

PRISONERS OF GHOSTLAND (2021)

Directed By: Sion Sono
Written By: Aaron Hendry & Reza Sixo Safai
Cinematography: Sohei Tanikawa 
Editor: Taylor Levy 

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavettes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi, Charles Glover, Young Dais, Tetsu Wantanabe 

Set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor, whose adopted granddaughter Bernice has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman and his own path to redemption.


Being that Nicolas Cage stars in this film. The audience will already expect a certain level of craziness. Here the film fulfills expectations.

So that while off the wall, violent and colorful. The movie also comes off like a blockbuster that somewhat for all of its eccentricities also comes off unexpectedly conventional for a post-apocalyptic film. 

Especially when you consider that this is Sion Sono’s first English language film and teaming up with an American star known for unconventional choices. That seems like a Genius pair made in Heaven. As Director sono is known for films that are considered out there in mentality and surreal in visions and atmosphere. 

The director’s eye for visuals and over-the-top excess while staying stylish and artistic are on full display. Though the film also seems to lack certain courage of vision. Though Cage certainly easily fits right in. 

As it seems it has reigned In only a little to be less indulgent and think more about the audience. It does come off as more poetic and symbolic at times.

The film oddly lacks as much action as might be expected and that seems to be set-up and building up to. 

While the film is quite an adventure filled with plenty of themes of redemption and a combination of cultural clashes and influence. It certainly comes across as different and hard to exactly define, but still oddly feels a little dispirited and tame. 

By the end, the film is a post-apocalyptic film that is heavily influenced to end a western. Though one thing the film promises is that it is never what you thought you would be watching.

Grade: C+