REVIEW: EARTHQUAKE BIRD

Riley Keough, Alicia Vikander, and Naoki Kobayashi in Earthquake Bird (2019)

Starring

Alicia Vikander (Tome Raider)
Riley Keough (Logan Lucky)
Naoki Kobayashi (Tatara Samurai)
Jack Huston (Ben-Hur)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Ken Yamamura (The Wolverine)

Alicia Vikander in Earthquake Bird (2019)Set in Tokyo, a surprisingly Japanese speaking Alicia Vikander, Lucy, is interrogated by police over the disappearance, and suspected murder, of fellow expat Lily. Tension grows throughout the film as Lucy grows increasingly jealous and paranoid of Lily, who slowly gets close to her mysterious photographer boyfriend Teiji.maxresdefaultWhilst the pace of the film is slow, Alicia Vikander is phenomenal as Lily, holding you at the edge of your seat as her mental state slowly crumbles. Time is taken to dwell on Lucy’s expressions, her feelings, her psyche. Her eyes slowly welling up in one scene is magical.  The setting is a character in its own right, framed magnificently in a number of scenes- the grandeur of the mountains, the composition of the secret woodland temple, the liveliness of the festival… compared to the greys of Teiji’s studio and Lucy’s apartment near the end.splash_780-295There is a quietness to the movie which I actually really like and unfortunately felt that the ending/resolve, which was rather abrupt did not feel right with the rest of the movie and was too convenient and expected.MV5BMjc5MjE5ODQ3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzA0NzU3._V1_
Nonetheless, I found there was a lot to love about the movie that despite its pace, kept my attention throughout; with an emotional and reflective performance from Vikander, and was a much needed “quieter” film amongst all the noise of the world.

REVIEW: THE TOYS THAT MADE US – SEASON 3

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Featuring

Vanilla Ice (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Rob Paulsen (G.I. Joe: The Movie)
Walter Jones (Power Rangers)
David Yost (Power Rangers)
Tara Strong (Batjman: The Killing Joke)

If you haven’t sampled the first 2 seasons of The Toys That Made Us, go and smash that out quickly now. It’s only four episodes and won’t take long. We’ll wait for you. Back again? Great! By now, you’re probably hooked on the irreverent style of this novel documentary series, what with its effortless humour, fascinating first-hand accounts and even a bit of historical recreation with dodgy 70’s haircuts. What’s the basic gist? In Season 1, TTTMU delved into Star Wars, G.I. Joe, He-Man and Malibu Stacy (sorry, force of habit, Barbie). Season 2 offers very in-depth, behind-the-scenes access to the usually secretive dealmakers and artisans behind the toy lines of LEGO, Star Trek, Transformers and Hello Kitty.toys-that-made-us-season-3Along comes season 3, bringing us Power Rangers, TMNT, My Little Pony and Wrestling.  Don’t expect to be bogged down in borax and boredom though – this is a documentary anthology for casual outsiders, not the diehard collectors themselves. You’ll receive an easy-to-follow walkthrough of each toy’s cultural significance, the key personnel involved and the financial rollercoaster ride to success (or failure) that followed. The interviewees here are surprisingly candid and often emotional about the opportunities won and lost thirty odd years ago.MLM8sogiTtZgz9KCad4bWMThis show keeps getting better and better, seeing the history of some of my favorite toys, this show is a must watch for toy fans.

 

REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 4

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018)

CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)
Geena Davis (The Fly)

She-RaOn November 4, Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is back with season 4, which includes a full thirteen episodes like season 1 did (seasons 2 and 3 split the 13 episodes). This season takes a dark turn as the Horde gains the advantage over the princesses, the threat of Horde Prime looms, terrible secrets are discovered about the First Ones, and a rift develops between Adora (Aimee Carrero) and Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara). It’s a fully packed season, with plenty of goofy humor just like any other season of She-Ra, but this one definitely feels darker overall, for better or worse.downloadTo recap, season 3 left off with Catra (AJ Michalka) opening the portal even after being warned by both Adora and Entrapta (Christine Woods) that it was faulty. To stop it from destroying everything, Queen Angella (Reshma Shetty) gave her life to shut it down. Catra exiled Entrapta to Beast Island for trying to stop her. Adora found out that she’s a First One who came to Etheria as a baby through a portal, which is why the sword responded to her. Most importantly, Hordak’s (Keston John) message to Horde Prime went through before the portal was destroyed. Season 4 begins with Queen Glimmer’s coronation.she-ra-s4-review-1194462A lot of the season revolves around Glimmer learning how to embody her new role as queen, and it is not a smooth journey. As she feels more and more of the pressure of being responsible for everyone, she starts lashing out, mostly at Adora. Part of the appeal of She-Ra is the friendship between Adora, Glimmer, and Bow (Marcus Scribner). They’re supportive, adorable, and always work to resolve any issues between them. There’s a reason Bow likes to call them “the best friend squad.” But this season, all of that breaks down. Glimmer and Adora hardly have a pleasant and friendly moment all season long – something new character Double Trouble (Jacob Tobia), a shapeshifter, encourages – and the bitterness puts a damper on what’s usually a fun tone. What’s worse is that they don’t work out their issues and make up by the time the season ends, making the season feel unresolved. It’s also a shame that Glimmer doesn’t find her way as a queen. She only gets more cold and controlling as the season goes on, especially as she continues to take advice from Shadow Weaver. As it stands, fans will have to wait until season 5 for Adora and Glimmer to, hopefully, work things out. Poor Bow, all he wants is for everyone to get along.she-ra-season-4-images-4
Also seeing conflict this season is Catra and Scorpia’s (Lauren Ash) friendship. Though she’s part of the Horde, Scorpia has always been a really positive character and a great friend to Catra. This season, however, she finally starts to realize that Catra’s not such a great friend to her, especially as Catra continuously treats everyone around her worse and worse, as the Horde gets closer than ever to its goal of world domination. This is also on the heels of Catra banishing Entrapta, who Scorpia considered a friend. It’s nice to see the show take Scorpia’s character in new directions. She’s definitely one of the best characters on the show, and we finally get to learn about some of her background.she-ra-season-5-renewal-newsWe also get to learn a lot about Adora’s background this season, which is a good follow-up to last season’s revelation about Adora being a First One. We finally find out what the First Ones were doing on Etheria, the origins of She-Ra, what happened to Mara, and why Etheria is in Despondos (the pocket dimension that cuts them off from the rest of the universe). If you want answers about everything, this season is the one to watch. It also ends with a big change, from which She-Ra will never be the same.doubletrouble_0For all of the serious stuff going on, there’s still plenty of hijinks too. This is She-Ra after all. There’s an episode called “Boys’ Night Out” where Bow, Sea Hawk (Jordan Fisher), and Swift Wind (Adam Ray) sing some ridiculously silly songs, and accidentally on purpose get kidnapped so that the girls can overcome their problems and rescue them. The “Mer-Mysteries” episode feels like a perfectly campy murder-mystery party, as the princesses try to figure out who the mole is. In two of my favorite episodes of the season, we get to revisit the Crimson Waste (episode 2), and finally get to go to Beast Island (episode 11). Beast Island holds a number of revelations that you won’t want to miss. The show does a great job of mixing the goofy with the more serious, creating a perfect mixture of high stakes and comic relief.maxresdefaultFor all of the issues between Glimmer and Adora, the show still has great things to say about friendship and loyalty. One can never assume that just because a character is from the Horde, that they are purely bad. Catra and Scorpia’s fellow soldiers, Lonnie (Dana Davis), Kyle (Antony Del Rio), and Rogelio get to demonstrate the strength of their bond this season, while Hordak grieves the loss of Entrapta as his friend. Catra thinks she doesn’t need anyone, but she finds herself the loneliest character on the show, and it motivates everything she does. The plot is packed pretty tightly this season, especially as the princesses lose more ground than ever to the Horde. The stakes are higher than ever, and you can feel that tension in every episode. It’s both exciting and fun in a way that only She-Ra can be. With the fundamental circumstances of the show changed however, it’s anyone’s guess what next season will look like.

 

REVIEW: THE LAUNDROMAT

Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, David Schwimmer, and Jeffrey Wright in The Laundromat (2019)

Starring

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight)
Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro)
Sharon Stone (Catwoman)
David Schwimmer (Friends)
Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)
Will Forte (Fanboys)
Chris Parnell (Goosebumps 2)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory)
Larry Wilmore (Vamps)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
Nikki Amuka-Bird (The Omen)
Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones)
Amy Pemberton (Legends of Tomorrow)
Charles Halford (Constantine)

Meryl Streep and Jeff Michalski in The Laundromat (2019)The film follows Ellen Martin (Streep), whose dream vacation takes a wrong turn and leads her down a rabbit hole of shady dealings that can all be traced to one Panama City law firm, run by financially seductive partners Jürgen Mossack (Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Banderas). In a shocking denouement she soon learns that her minor predicament is only a drop in the bucket of millions of files linking off-shore drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises to the world’s richest and most powerful political leaders.Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman in The Laundromat (2019)The subplot of a wealthy man and his daughter bears strong reference to the events described in the April 2019 book, The Bouvier Affair: A True Story, involving a network of trusts under a Russian oligarch’s name in Cyprus. The book focuses on Dmitry Rybolovlev, his daughter, Ekaterina Rybolovleva, and his wife, ElenaMeryl Streep and Larry Clarke in The Laundromat (2019)I found the film better than I’d imagined. It has a refreshing style for sure and maybe watched by a lot of folks who need the truth put forth to be in this entertaining format. The title of the movie was not an attractive lure, though for me, and I almost passed watching it.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE PERFECTION

Allison Williams in The Perfection (2018)

Staring

Allison Williams (Get Out)
Logan Browning (Powers)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe)
Christina Jastrzembska (Warcraft)

The Perfection (2018)Charlotte Willmore is a talented Cellist who was forced to leave the prestigious music school Bachoff which she was enrolled at to care for her dying mother Ruth. In the present day, Ruth has just died and Charlotte makes contact with head of Bachoff and her teacher Anton. She travels to Shanghai where the school is in the middle of selecting a new student to join them and becomes aware that the girl who replaced her after she left the school, Lizzie, has achieved considerable success. Charlotte attends the selection process of the last three potential students and meets Lizzie, Anton, his wife Paloma and Bachoff teachers Theis and Geoffrey. Charlotte and Lizzie quickly become friends and their relationship rapidly turns into a romantic and sexual one. They go clubbing before having sex in their hotel room.Allison Williams in The Perfection (2018)The next day, Lizzie wakes up with a hangover so borrows some ibuprofen from Charlotte. Lizzie states her intention to backpacking through rural china and invites Charlotte to accompany her. As they head to the bus, Lizzie starts to feel ill which worsens when they stop by at a restaurant. Once on the bus, Lizzie’s conditions gets even worse, claiming her brain is on fire and she can feel something crawling under her skin. She suspects she has caught a sickness that has been spreading through China recently. As Lizzie gets more and more panicked, she starts to freak out the other bus riders and she then throws up maggots. Lizzie and Charlotte are let off the bus so Lizzie can go to the toilet and once they re-enter, a frenzied Lizzie slams her head into the bus window. The bus driver kicks the pair out who are instructed to walk to a nearby village. Lizzie starts to throw up spiders before more bugs crawl out of her arm. At Charlotte’s insistence, Lizzie hacks off her infected right hand with a meat cleaver Charlotte bought.Allison Williams in The Perfection (2018)It is then revealed that Charlotte drugged Lizzie with her mother’s hallucinogenic pills, tricking her that they were ibuprofen and orchestrated everything to lead to Lizzie cutting off her hand such as stealing the cleaver from the restaurant they visited. Three weeks later, Anton and Palmoa guide the selected Chinese student Zhang Li around Bachoff and show her “The Chapel”, an acoutsically perfect room where only the best students like Lizzie and Charlotte are allowed to play. That night, Lizzie arrives at Bachoff. Anton and Paloma are shocked to see her hand has been cut off and equally alarmed by Lizzie’s accusations that Charlotte is responsible, claiming she abandoned Lizzie after the hand was cut off. The next day, Lizzie is distraught to discover that Anton is kicking her out of Bachoff, stating that there is no reason for her to stay now that her hand is gone.The-Perfection-Trailer-700x291Charlotte, back at her home; is attacked and knocked unconscious by Lizzie. She brings Charlotte to Bachoff and Anton talks to Charlotte. Charlotte reveals that Anton makes his star pupils such as herself and Lizzie perform in the chapel and then rape them with the help of Geoffery and Theis if they make any slight mistake. The music note tattoo on both her and Lizzie signify they go through this experience and hence upon spotting it on Lizzie, planned the hand amputation to get Lizzie as far away from Bachoff and away from Anton and his brainwashing. An enraged Anton drags Charlotte down the Chapel. Lizzie and the staff at Bachoff watch Charlotte as Anton tells her that he will rape Zhang Li if Charlotte does not play perfectly. Zhang Li is then invited to watch the performance, unaware of the danger she is in. After the performance however, Zhang Li is sent to bed by Paloma and Anton states that Charlotte will be raped instead.THE-PERFECTION-1884149Once Anton leaves, the group activate a mechanism in the chair Charlotte is trapped in to prop up and bind her hands before moving in. Lizzie threatens to rape Charlotte with her hand stump before Geoffrey and Thesis suddenly die from drinks Lizzie has poisoned. The pair kiss and it is revealed that after Lizzie attacked Charlotte in the house, she states that she knows Charlotte is right and a flashback shows after Lizzie cut her hand off, Charlotte convinced her that Anton will turn her away when she needed him most and that he doesn’t love her. The pair make a plan to bring the school down. Charlotte and Lizzie stab Paloma to death before attacking Anton with a meat cleaver and knife. Anton briefly gains the upper-hand, mutilating Charlotte’s left arm before he is severely wounded and beaten by Lizzie. Some unspecified time later, a mutilated but still alive Anton who is dressed in nothing but his underwear, has his mouth and eyes sown and missing all of his limbs, listens as Charlotte and Lizzie perform for him in the chapel playing as one, both compensating for the other’s missing hand.the-perfection1Most of the Netflix film are trash, yes they are but not this one, don’t understand the lack of attention and the hate down there, not much horror films are actually watchable nowadays, but I enjoy this one as a horror fan, music and the the acting are the best

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BABYSITTER (2017)

CAST

Judah Lewis (Point Break)
Samara Weaving (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Bella Thorne (Amityville: The Awakening)
Robbie Amell (The Flash)
Andrew B. Bachelor (Fifty Shades of Black)
Emily Alyn Lind (Lights Out)
Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect)
Leslie Bibb (Iron Man)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)

Twelve-year-old Cole Johnson is a naïve teenager who tries to fit in with everyone else. When he is bullied by his neighbour Jeremy, his babysitter Bee stands up for him and draws them away from him. The following day, when his parents go out for an overnight stay at a hotel, Bee and Cole spends quality time together until after 10.00pm. About 30 minutes or so later, Cole is encouraged by a text from his best friend Melanie to go see what Bee gets up to after he “goes to sleep”. To his surprise, he sees what looks like a harmless game of Spin the Bottle, as Bee passionately kisses each of her friends as part of a dare. However, as she kisses a nervous nerd called Samuel that she met the other day, she pulls two daggers from behind her back and spears them into his skull, spewing blood into golden goblets. As Cole sees this, he freezes in shock and, in a fit of fear, hurries to his room and ties his bedsheets together and throws them out the window. Unfortunately, shortly after the remaining members of the cult (including Bee) take a blood sample from him, Cole momentarily passes out.screen-shot-2017-10-03-at-12-39-34-pmLater, Bee and her posse question why he was spying on them. He, on the contrary, asks them why they are doing this. Bee claims that the blood sample was part of a “science project”, but Cole refuses to believe her. Just then, the cops arrive at the house and one member, Allison, is shot in her left breast, leaving a bloody wound. Max, a muscular quarterback jock, impales a cop in the eye with a pole, whereas Bee slits the other cop’s neck, again spraying blood into John’s face. As Cole re-attempts to escape, he is briefly pursued by John, but accidentally pushes him over the banister and he falls and lands on the floor with a trophy impaling his neck.Pursuing after Cole, Sonya and Max find him in a Crawlspace, where he lights a firework at Sonya but it misses her; he then traps her inside just as the firework explodes in a fireball and kills her. Max finds him and chases Cole up to an old treehouse, where after a brawl, the boys fall with Max hung by the rope, exposing part of his spine.Fresh, violent but also funny, The Babysitter is a love letter to the slasher genre. Turn off your brain and enjoy this nice experience.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: RATTLESNAKE

Rattlesnake (2019)

Starring

Carmen Ejogo (Alex Cross)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Emma Greenwell (Duet)

AAAABULZxMNz4dwGosN3q7yOO6vezwA0XE1OOb8NXZFuzFalgQEgRh14b6_bf9xbQ53kz9rAz3c1voN_qX2Wl_xmKutQQIgV9ocB813jbXZSvID-qWEDb-oS66K9vLwjxAThe art of cutting trailers from a film surely deserves more mention, love and credit. More than just hinting to the audience what the film is about and what roles their favourite actors/actresses are playing, they also have the important task of creating sufficient intrigue and interest for the film. Show too little, and they won’t be interested in the first place. Show too much, and the audience loses interest. But, cut a key scene at precisely the right moment, and a discerning viewer may end up checking out your film himself for some answers. That’s just how the human mind works, and the folks who create a trailer from the stock length of the film seem to have an acute understanding of that.rattlesnake-netflix-image.jpgInvariably so, and this happens more often than we would all want to accept, the very well edited trailer of a film short-charges the film itself, and while you step in as an eager audience, you come out either exhausted or disenchanted, because the film barely lives up to that idea that drew you into the film in the first place. Netflix doesn’t put out the best of trailers necessarily, but the one they did for its latest survival thriller film ‘Rattlesnake’ particularly drew me to check it out this evening. The premise: that of a single woman making a deal with the devil to save her daughter’s life after she is bitten by a rattlesnake in the middle of the desert while travelling, and her race against time to keep her end of the deal, did seem just promising enough to have me spend 90 minutes not complaining about the pollution outside, while also making it plenty clear that like every year, with Halloween approaching, this was Netflix’s feeble attempt to cash in on the peeves of audiences to be spooked, thus the recent slew of semi-effective horror flicks every week. It is clear that given the mediocrity, the best chance these films have of working in the whole year is now. However, ‘Rattlesnake’ is a new low even within that very low bar set by Netflix.rattlesnake-netflix-movie-imageLike most Netflix releases, the idea in here presents itself and sets up the narrative forward within the first 20 minutes or so, after which its just irredeemably pummels, struggling to find coherence along the shallow roots laid by that very idea. I had a very similar complaint with ‘In The Tall Grass’, but even through its runtime, the idea of the killer tall grass and the mystery behind it is intriguing enough to atleast let you pace past the finishing mark. Unfortunately, in this case, the idea itself, of the rattlesnake, of the irreversible deal, and of the morality of the protagonist being questioned bears little intrigue to begin with. That the execution barely ties all of this together, and the unshakeable feeling every five minutes of the film having lost a sense of vision doesn’t help. Around the halfway mark, I struggled to even remind myself why this film was called ‘Rattlesnake’ in the first place.rattlesnake-carmen-ejogo-imageWhile the story has always been kind of a shaky terrain for Netflix films to traverse, they have always boasted of enviable production quality over the last decade since it started doing its own originals, beating out even some mid-budget feature length releases in the process. With this one, nearly all comes undone. There are no special effects in the film to begin with, but the editing is majorly off in a couple of places, and that affects the coherence of the film as a singular whole in a big, big way. It is true that editing, as I stated in the beginning of this write up, whether of a feature film, a short film, or even a trailer, is an invisible, underrated beauty when done right. But for the audience to truly notice that, it has to be done wrong for it to stick out like a sore thumb. That is more or less what happens here. Ditto for the sound mixing in several places. While these are some of the things that shouldn’t bother a regular, indiscernible viewer merely looking for a 90 minute escape, for those asking for a little more, the end result is that of alienation from the end product.

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I wouldn’t call it a saving grace, because it would take a lot more than that to bring this film beyond those borders, but Carmen Ejogo’s performance is uniformly adequate throughout. She is in nearly every frame of the film, and while it isn’t a knockout, her performance is one of the few things not terribly wrong with the film, keeping it going when the script too wanes in the final bits. My final verdict? Avoid it like you would a rattlesnake in the desert.