BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2013)

Written & Directed By: Peter Strickland 
Cinematography By: Nicholas D. Knowland 
 Editor: Chris Dickens 

Cast: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Susanna Cappellaro, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, Chiara D’anna

A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art. 


The film didn’t sound like anything amazing. In fact, it sounded more like a trick of a movie, like an M. Night Shamalayan films get labeled as more about spectacle and showing off than story, characters, and general enjoyment. Word of mouth leads me to give it a chance

This film throws you off so much that it makes your mind explode with ideas for possibilities at every turn.

It’s a film that shows a love for the magic, mystery, and technology of cinema and its making. Giving the audience insight into sound and foley artists while building a story around it. Then the film plays around with it to throw you off course. Leaving it up to you and your own interpretations as to what is going on.

It takes what could have been a simple premise and manipulates it and plays with it so much that you always have a feeling of dread. The film always makes sure that you never feel comfortable leaving you to wonder at times have things been lost in translation?

The characters seem like stock from a horror film at times then just seem like characters of the period it portrays. Female characters go from seeming plain and innocent to exotic creatures of mystery and depth. Characters go from seeming mysterious to comedic and or pathetic.

You can look at the film in many ways dark comedy might even be one of a mystery.

The film also feels like a film that could have been made of that period as it recreates to become a homage to that era and it’s filmmaking. It’s like a mix between David Lynch and Francis Ford Coppola but having a style, character and voice all its own.

To me it seemed almost to be a better version of the recent film BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW strived to be.

This definitely would be a good film to watch with INLAND EMPIRE and/or MULHOLLAND DRIVE and BARTON FINK only this film is more compact. It manages to make so much out of so little.

I was shocked at how much this film surprised and delighted me. This is really a standout film and Toby Jones is noteworthy as his character is so timid and awkward and the people at the studio he works at so mean, rude and obnoxious, but insists he is the rude and ungrateful one constantly.

I don’t want to give away too much of the films plot as it has plenty of surprises for the audience that are best to discover and truly contemplate.

My only complaint is that there isn’t a scene where Toby Jones totally gets to lose it. So that there is a release of emotions, but since this film is built on tension for the most part that would let the audience off, and clearly that is not this films intention.

GRADE: B+

AFTERSHOCK (2013)

Directed By: Nicolas Lopez 
Written By: Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth & Guillermo Amodeo 
Cinematography By: Antonio Quercia 
Editor: Diego Macho Gomez 
 Cast: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvart, Ariel Levy, Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izzo, Nicolas Martinez

After an earthquake erupts in Chile, tourists discover that a neighboring prison in the area collapsed in the event, and all surviving criminals managed to break free. Soon they learn that the most terrifying thing, more threatening than Mother Nature, is what she created.


The film was originally rated NC-17 but had to be cut and re-edited in order to get an R Rating.

Now, this film could have easily gone the wrong way and been schlocky. The longer the film plays and you watch the more impressive it becomes as it truly shows you the terror and danger of the various situations, while setting up a time limit as an impending doom worse than anything they encounter physically and personally might becoming.

The film feels at times to just be punishing its characters just to do it. While it’s no torture porn. It’s quite cruel but maintains a certain reality while also following certain genre rules and tropes.

No one comes out of the film clean. They all end up becoming victims in some way, shape, or form.

The first act sets up the characters as we get to know them and see them enjoying their vacation setting up group dynamics, Relationships, and friendships. It works as act 2 and 3 then unspools and we feel more of a connection to the characters. We find ourselves caring about their fates. It feels like a continuation of co-writer, co-producer, co-star Eli Roth’s other horror films. Where a trip to a foreign locale, We see the fun and pursuit of sex that often backfires and leans towards comedic. Then all of a sudden moves into horror pretty quickly. Here it feels like a more mature version of it. I have to give both credits. I feel he is growing his talent more and this helps represent a newfound maturity. It shows.

None of the leads is completely evil or completely good. They do what they have to do to survive.

The film does reek of a B-Movie aesthetic at times. Mainly due to the disaster aspects.

There are no sacred cows as the film sets itself up pretty early, That anyone can be taken out and killed. This helps throw the audience off as you never are quite sure how far it will go nor what can and can’t happen. Just general randomness Through many challenges no one great villain just has to survive. No stalking monster though the tsunami warnings give the characters incentive to rush the experience and keep moving while working against the calamities.

The film shows what can be scarier than a natural disaster is the citizen’s reactions.

Of course, the casting of Eli Roth in the lead and him being a producer and co-writer. He will be accused of having this film be just another extension of his ego or just another project for him to star in. A vanity project almost as he has cameoed in his films and in others. Though the film doesn’t leave him in a heroic light. He does fine with the material

What sometimes disturbs me in films is that whenever it is more of a minority culture. When things break down. They are always shown as looters, Gangs, and rapists. Whereas Caucasians are usually the heroes or the victims. Rarely do we see them along as the ones going crazy and being just as bad unless it’s post-apocalyptic. Where they are the organized villains, part of a hierarchy. Here it happens in a foreign locale and directed and co-written by a native of Chile where it is filmed

Nicolas Lopez who I am a fan of ever since seeing the preview of the film PROMEDIO ROJO. 9 years ago and then finally seeing it last year. He has a vision and while the film includes a scene of the thing I hate most in films (Rape) it’s not as graphic as it could have been or still disturbing.

This is a bleak downtrodden tale that I have to say I found exceptional than what I thought it would be or easily could have become, truthfully the preview made this film look like a SyFy original film. Thankfully it’s much better.

It’s a movie to seek out more if you are a genre fan.

 GRADE: B

THE FAMILY (2013)

Directed By: Luc Besson  Written By: Luc Besson & Michael Caleo Based in the Book Written By: Tonino Benacquista Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast Editor: Julien Ray

Cast: Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Domenick Lombardozzi, Vincent Pastore, Jimmy Palumbo 

The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging, as their old habits die hard.


The film goes from a zany comedic one moment then wants us to believe In The dramatics and tension of situations. They then usually relieve themselves in ridiculous ways. Filled with Italian mafia stereotypes. 

As each character finds their own hustle daughter seems to suffer the most

Just as with the ridiculous ark of Diana argron’s character sets out to seduce her teacher and then when he decides to end the affair for Good reason. She is ready to kill herself in a dramatic fashion. I guess the script is aiming to show the vast emotional unpredictable terrain of teenage girls In love?

Robert DeNiro seems to be having fun once again sending up himself and mob movies

The film has style but shows it rather sparingly and usually only in the action scenes.

The film should be a slam dunk. Though even the lost-in-translation-type jokes and setups don’t work here. As the film seems more of a high-concept comedy that has come too late. Usually, the film is just as appealing and Rich as a bunch of action scenes in a small town. That is when the film at least comes alive

Director Luc Besson is bringing Hollywood-style blockbusters and big action stores to more typical European locales and surroundings.

Here it doesn’t feel like anyone is trying. They more or less seem to be trying to coast on their own laurels. Just as the film seems to try to coast on the big-name cast and be seen as more of a prestige picture

Considering all the talent involved this should have been a slam dunk. It definitely should be better and sharper. Even if dumbed-down, It should definitely be better in the action sequences that director Luc Besson is usually an expert at.

The film feels so middle for the road, lazy and lacking effort. Its tone is all over the place and the humor seems obvious or just lost in translation. 

Every character goes their own way and eventually abs their own secrets. Breaking the rules they hold each other to. Except for surprisingly Robert DeNiro’s character who all the other characters think will. 

The film feels like they should men ore for character considering the talent. Instead, the film just feels thin like an idea without true follow-through very 1980s and 1990’s.

Grade: F

SIDE EFFECTS (2013)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: Scott Z. Burns
Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews) 
Editor: Steven Soderbergh (As Mary Ann Bernard)

Cast: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Polly Draper, Ann Dowd, Laila Robins, Mamie Gummer, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Marin Ireland 

A young woman’s world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.


Following up his pandemic movie CONTAGION that was a bigger offering with a smaller tale might seem like a step-down but it’s a movie that packs a wallop even though you don’t expect it. Unfortunately by the end, you don’t feel anything. It’s certainly entertaining but it comes off more as a smart artistic popcorn movie. It does its job but at this point movie, fans might be expecting more or stronger From director Soderbergh from his journeyman auteur reputation. This might be what the film suffers from the most

It’s a movie where things happen but you never quite feel anything it is quite clinical to watch and experience. Even as the twists happen you should care somewhat 

It’s a claustrophobic tale of what happens in all Those high-rise apartments of the haves. As most of the characters come from money and are privileged. Though Channing Tatum heavily billed again he is in the movie very little. 

It feels like it should be bigger even though it focuses more on a singular story 

Each character is smart except for the early victim. So that is refreshing as the film comes more alive when Jude law’s character is more or less fighting for professional and personal survival and all the twists are coming to light, Just as the third act is his plan taking place 

It’s a tale you would expect to be told bigger and more extravagant but with Soderbergh’s style, it focuses more singularly on the plot dynamics allowing room for the character but more or less being to the point and less indulgent. While the film. Still has style and is more technical 

It’s a bigger film from him but still a smaller story though this film feels less experimental than some of his others. This one doesn’t call attention to itself as much and has a stronger script and story than usual.

It allows the mystery of Rooney Mara’s character vacant looks and silence to shape her character and situations. As again when a character uses it to her advantage what people believe about her by her silence and looks. What identity and beliefs they put onto her that might be totally opposite from who she is. They put a character onto her when she is an actual person. She ends up Being the ultimate muse in an unartistic story. One that is mroe made up of successful characters in the medical profession. An unexpected feels Fatale if sorts 

Showing how easy it is for even the most rational of us to fall into a belief of certain fantasies that take the form of supposed responsible thought. Though managed to do it without making it a tale of the weakness of falling into temptation and paying the price for it.

The film seems more like it will be a psychological drama. When actually it will be more of a character-based thriller. This works for this film as it is unexpected and you don’t see it coming. Just as the film involves sex it isn’t very erotic or sexy. 

This is one of the more commercial and straightforward films of Steven Soderbergh. As this one whole cerebral and technical doesn’t feel like an experiment it seems like a smaller project for him that is almost like a short story for him instead of a novel. Which is how full his films can sometimes be. Either with a story or the number of stars usually, cast. 

This is the most likable performance I have found so far of Jude Law’s career. Where he gets to be innocent yet shrewd and the only way out for him is through his Intelligence. Not his looks, wit, or tortured soul. What also helps is that here the performance is mroe natural and effortless. No baggage. As here he plays more of a person, not a character or type. No different look or wardrobe to hide behind. Here he and his performance are stripped down. 

You go into this movie looking for a twist or expecting a thriller and that is what you get but the film plays the more technical side than the emotional. Though it is shockingly mean-spirited and more psychologically ruthless than expected. 

It also shows the passing of time as in the past Catherine Zeta-Jones would be the seducer and audiences would have loved to see her in a same-sex relationship and love scenes. Here as she plays just another victim. It might remind some audience members of the passage of time. Times have certainly changed.

In the end, this is a film that seems simple but then grabs you and takes you through a maze. That is stronger than it appears to be. A throwback to films aimed at adults that wants you to think and figure them out. 

Grade: B- 

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (2013)

blue-is-the-warmest-color-movie

 

Directed By: Abdellatif Kechiche
Written By: Abdellatif Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix
Adapted from: the comic book “Le Bleu est une couleur chaude” by: Julie Maroh Cinematography By: Sofian El Fani
Editor: Sophie Brunet, Ghalia Lacroix, Albertine Lastera, Jean-Marie Lengelle & Camille Toubkis 


Cast: Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulus, Salim Kechiouche, Aurellen Recoing, Catherine Salee, Benjamin Siksou, Alma Jodorosky

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

Adèle is a high school student who is beginning to explore herself as a woman. She dates men but finds no satisfaction with them sexually, and is rejected by a female friend who she does desire. She dreams of something more. She meets Emma who is a free spirited girl whom Adèle’s friends reject due to her sexuality, and by association most begin to reject Adèle. Her relationship with Emma grows into more than just friends as she is the only person with whom she can express herself openly. Together, Adèle and Emma explore social acceptance, sexuality, and the emotional spectrum of their maturing relationship

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ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

ESCAPEPLAN

Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Written By: Miles Chapman & Arnell Jesko
Story By: Miles Chapman
Cinematography By: Brendan Galvin
Editor: Elliot Greenberg 


Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Amy Ryan, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Farin Tahar, Sam Neill, Graham Beckel, Matt Gerald

Ray Breslin is the world’s foremost authority on structural security. After analyzing every high security prison and learning a vast array of survival skills so he can design escape-proof prisons, his skills are put to the test. He’s framed and incarcerated in a master prison he designed himself. He needs to escape and find the person who put him behind bars.

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OUT OF THE FURNACE (2013)

furnace

Directed By: Scott Cooper
Written By: Scott Cooper & Brad Ingelsby
Cinematography By: Masanobu Takayanagi
Editor: David Rosenbloom 


Cast: Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Forrest Whitaker, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shephard, Tom Bower, Boyd Holbrook

Russell and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother becomes involved with one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.

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BLOOD TIES (2013)

bloodties

 

Directed By: Guillaume Canet
Written By: Guillaume Canet & James Gray
Based on the French Film ‘RIVALS’ (Les Liens Du Sang) Written By: Jacques Maillot, Pierre Chossen & Eric Veniard
Based On The Novel Written By: Bruno & Michel Papet
Cinematography By: Christophe Offenstein
Editor: Herve De Luze 


Cast: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Noah Emmerich, Matthias Schoenaerts, Zoe Saldana, Dominick Lombardozzi, John Ventimiglia, Mila Kunis, Lili Taylor, James Caan, Griffen Dunne, Yul Vasquez, Jamie Hector, Eve Hewson, Olek Krupa

Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.

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GIMME THE LOOT (2013)

gimee

Written & Directed By: Adam Leon
Cinematography By: Jonathan Miller
Editor: Morgan Faust 


 Cast: Ty Hickson, Tashiana Washington, Sam Soghor, Zoe Lescaze

When a rival gang buffs Malcolm and Sofia’s latest graffiti masterpiece with a replica of the NY Mets home-run apple, they’re determined to get spectacular revenge – by tagging the real Mets’ apple. Over the course of a whirlwind two-day heat wave, these tough teens from the Bronx must hustle, scramble, and steal to execute the scheme that will make them the most famous writers in New York.

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