Parasite: A Chain Of Trust Must Never Be Broken

Parasite is a South Korean dark comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-Ho. The film revolves around a poor family (The Kim Family), that one by one infiltrate the services of a rich family (The Park Family), to live the high life as well as to benefit financially. The Kim family uses fake documents to pose as well-trained professionals as well as a series of underhanded tactics, which grow in seriousness across the film.

This film is a dark comedy done right. The tone perfectly straddles the line between comedy and tragedy as all good dark comedies should do. There were moments of hilarity such as when Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun) and Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) are engaging in some sexy role play, which to them involves them being poor and dealing drugs, all the while the actual poor members of the Kim family are all hidden under the table. This scene amused me, but also made me think, it furthers the theme of a class divide which is pivotal to this film.  It paints the Kim family and the Park family as drastic opposites, almost different species.

The idea of this class divide is best shown in one of the film’s final scenes when Kim Ke-jeong (Park So-dam), gets stabbed by the crazy guy from the basement, more on that later, and no one seems to care. She has been a good friend to the Park family, or at least she appeared that way, but when the time came they didn’t give her a second thought; yes an argument could be made that they were preoccupied with saving their own son, but they could have still done something.

There are parts of this film where it veers into strange and crazy ideas, these are the best bits. As the film escalates it gets more and more manic, the world becomes unstable, with some films especially films that are supposed to be realistic like this one, venturing into this kind of territory can be disastrous, but in Parasites case it works really well; it thrives in the chaos.

Overall, this is a very entertaining film it had great moments of tension and comedy and it even managed to make me think. The ending even had a tear in my eye. A beautiful film.

Pros.

A Perfect Dark Comedy.

Great Performances.

A Superb Ending.

Embracing The Crazy.

Cons.

Maybe A Little Too Long.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Murder Mystery: Sandler Is On The Case

‘Murder Mystery’ is a comedy mystery film directed by Kyle Newacheck. The plot follows married couple Nick (Adam Sandler), and Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), who’s holiday is interrupted when they get tangled up in a murder aboard a yacht; they soon get framed for the crimes and then they have to clear their names as well as find out who the real killer is.

I had heard that Adam Sandler’s Netflix comedies were the worst of the worst, lazy, boring and unfunny and I have to say this film disproved that to me to some extent. To elaborate on that point more what I mean is from a narrative standpoint the end twist where it looked like Nick and Audrey were wrong about who the killer is, was good, I wasn’t expecting. However, they then immediately undercut it by being like ‘oh wait yeah it was her’, which I felt was a misstep.

A lot can be said for Sandler’s Netflix fare, but at least it knows what it is. ‘Murder Mystery’ is a good, easy entertainment, you can turn your brain off for an hour and 40 minutes and sit back and have a few laughs, some intentional, some not. The plot is laughably goofy, but then that was always how it was going to be, no one ever thought this film would take itself seriously.

Sandler’s character arc is that he has been lying to his wife about being a detective for a long time and this is then revealed and the two have to work it out, this is not a new or fresh storyline, but it does work to some effect and makes Sandler a likeable, redeemable character. Sandler is definitely more toned down in this film and as such is more tolerable. What’s more it is nice to see him back on screen with Aniston, the two have great chemistry and play off each other with ease.

Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton, Terence Stamp and more are in this film and they are all serviceable, whilst also being incredibly forgettable and devoid of anything even remotely resembling a personality. If I had to guess they were all here for the paycheck.

Overall, Sandler was bearable in this, it was a far cry from something like ‘Grown Ups 2’ he worked well alongside Aniston and the film overall is good if you want something to turn your brain off to.

On the better side of average for sure.

Pros.

Aniston and Sandler.

Dumb Fun.

Sandler Is Always Watchable.

Cons.

The Wider Cast Are Easily Replaceable.

Nothing Fresh Or Original.

2.5/5

Reviewed By Luke

1917: Tick Tock

‘1917’ is an epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The plot revolves around 2 British soldiers who go on a desperate mission to call off a British attack on the German line, after it is revealed to be a trap, set during WW1.

In many ways this film reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. Despite being about different wars and different locations ‘1917’ had that same level of tension as well as being underpinned by a keen sense of futility, as it seems almost impossible the 2 soldiers will make it there in time to stop the advance.

‘1917’ shows the horrors of war and really plays them up to great effect, we see this when Schofield (George MacKay), meets Lauri (Claire Duburcq), a woman who is living in a bombed-out hovel with a baby that is not hers. The thing that makes this scene so tense is that if the baby doesn’t get milk it will die, fortunately Schofield has some, but it makes you think if  he hadn’t come along that Baby would have died and there is nothing Lauri could have done about it.

Another ballsy thing this film does that I think makes it worthy of praise is the decision to kill off one of its main characters early and with very little warning. The 2 soldiers who venture out are Schofield and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), but Blake just gets killed seemingly out of nowhere very early into the film. There is a bit in the film where both men are running through a collapsing German trench but emerge okay, at this point it seems as though ‘1917’ will flirt with the idea of these men dying, but it won’t actually go there. Then mere moments later a German Plane crashes and the pilot stabs Blake while Schofield has his back turned. It is that quick. There is no fanfare when Blake dies, no him soldiering on for a few more scenes, or a heroic self-sacrifice; he just dies very quickly in Schofield’s arms- this sets the tone for the film.

My one complaint about this film, the thing that stops me giving it a perfect score, is the fact that it wastes some of its larger cast. Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch are all in this film, but their parts are so small it makes you wonder why they were even cast at all. I think it would have been better if these actors were either given more to do, a la Tom Hardy in ‘Dunkirk’, or if they were played by unknown actors as seeing these big names pop-up for what feels like glorified cameos feels distracting.

Overall, a fantastic war film that doesn’t pull any punches, it is clear to see why this is up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Mostly Marvelous.

Pros.

Great Leads.

Ballsy Shocking Decisions In Storytelling.

A Sense Of Dread And Futility.

An Ever-Present Ticking Clock.

Cons.

Wastes Some Of It’s Bigger Stars.

4/5

Reviewed By Luke

East Is East: Life Is What You Make It

‘East Is East’ is a British comedy-drama directed by Damien O’Donnell. The plot revolves around a mixed ethnicity family with a Pakistani Father, George (Om Puri), and an English Mother Ella (Linda Bassett). The film explores ideas around identity and heritage, as George thinks his kids have become too English and have lost their culture, while his kids despise him for his strict, antiquated ways. The film is based on the play of the same name written by Ayub Khan-Dim, who also writes this film.

Over the years, I have seen this film many times, and the more you watch it the more layers you see are visible in it. Because on the surface it is mainly a comedy film with a few dramatic scenes thrown in, but if you look a bit deeper you see it is about a generation of kids that want to make their own identity, want to go down their own path; they don’t want to be told by their dad how to be, they just want to be themselves.

The kids all give great performances that have range, there is Tariq (Jimi Mistry), who is rebellious and wants to be in charge of his own destiny and then there is Maneer (Emil Marwa), who is everything his father would want him to be obedient. This film likes complexity, it likes to show how all the characters want freedom, they want to be able to shape their own destiny, but they are all going about it in their own way. The situation is affecting them all differently

Furthermore, this film has some really uncomfortable scenes, namely when George beats Maneer and then his wife. These scenes sharply contrast the comedy that we have so far been laughing along with and show a whole other side to the dynamic of the film that is deeply unpleasant to see. These scenes do have something to say and are not just put in for shock value, the abusive behavior feels natural for George’s characters, who as we already know is the sort of person who would completely disown one of his kids.

Overall, this is a staple of British Cinema for me and I think it has a lot to say about life and identity and it does it all well, with a healthy dose of laughter and a few scenes to hammer home the more serious points; both of these elements are in perfect harmony with each other. If you have already seen this then it is a must watch.

Pros.

Representation.

Characters You Care About.

Not Afraid To Get Real.

Charming And Funny.

Great Performances From Everyone.

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed By Luke

 

Adult World: A Sex Shop Of Love

‘Adult World’ is a comedy drama film directed by Scott Coffey. The plot follows Amy (Emma Roberts), an aspiring poet who is waiting on her big break. After she gets kicked out of her parents’ house, she is forced to take up a job at a sex shop which she eventually grows to love over time, despite not being happy to work there in the beginning. She also becomes some what of a protegee to famous American poet Rat Billings (John Cusack), who she has idolised since she was young.

This film deals with themes of growing up and accepting your place in the world. Throughout the film Amy is stressed as she feels she is not making enough of her golden years and that if she is not a published poet by the time, she turns 22 it is all over for her. However, at the end of the film Amy realises that it is okay to not be where she wants to be, and that life can be surprising. Indeed, if there is a message to this film it is that failure is okay, it has a comfortability to it.

The on-screen chemistry between Amy and her co worker Alex (Evan Peters), is palpable. Any scene the two shares together is fantastic, and captivating and it makes sense that this film was the beginning on their real-life relationship. Both, actors I believe are criminally underrated and both do a great job with what they are given here.

My one issue with this film is that John Cusack’s tired angry mentor character feels cliched and done before. He gives a good enough performance don’t get me wrong, but I do believe that he lets down the scenes between him and Emma Robert’s character which is a real shame as he is capable of much better.

Overall, this film has beautiful message of expanding your mind and being tolerant towards others which is something I think we all need to be reminded off every now and again. It is a shame that John Cusack is past his prime, but at least Roberts and Peters are fantastic and make this a film worth watching. There is a beauty to this film that needs to be seen.

Pros.

Roberts And Peters’ Great Chemistry.

It Is Unique.

It Has A Beautiful Message.

It Leaves You With Something To Think About.

Cons.

John Cusack Is Phoning It In.

3/5

Reviewed By Luke

Velvet Buzzsaw: An Exercise In Pretension

‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ is a satirical supernatural horror film written and directed by Dan Gilroy. The plot of the film revolves around a collection of painting that is both captivating and deadly; there is something alive within the paintings that either kills people or makes them kill themselves. The film also serves to lambast and spoof the art world.

Before I get into this review, I want to say that ‘Nightcrawler’ Gilroy’s other work with Jake Gyllenhaal is a masterpiece, being able to really show off its dark sensibilities and mustering a fantastic performance from Gyllenhaal. There is something about ‘Nightcrawler’ that makes it alarming every time you see it, even though by that point you know how it ends.

The same can’t be said for ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’. My main issue with this film is how up its own arse it is, it seems to think it is the best film that you will see all year; which it isn’t. The satirical elements of the film fail so much so, that I wasn’t even aware it was supposed to be that way until I sat down to research this review. The only thing that might clue you into the fact that this is supposed to be satirical is the fact that all the characters are deeply unlikeable; though I thought that was just bad writing.

Rene Russo and Gyllenhaal try their best and give good performances, which serve as a saving grace for this film, but only barely. The rest of the cast are terrible, Toni Collette’s performance has zero energy and feels like she is trying to give a bad performance for whatever reason. Zawe Ashton has one facial expression for the whole film and to call her wooden would be generous and ‘Stranger Things’ own Natalia Dyer feels like she is only in the film on Netflix’s behest to try and get more people to be like, “oh she was in Stranger Things I should probably rewatch that”.

The horror concepts of this film are interesting and there are a few good scares peppered throughout. However, they just aren’t enough, this film is 20 per cent inspired horror and then 80 per cent lost up its own arse as to how good it is; which is a terrible shame as I was excited to watch a film from the writer-director behind Nightcrawler and his strange, but always excellent muse Jake Gyllenhaal.

Overall this is an exercise in pretension that falls flat whilst also being incredibly hollow.

Pros.

Jake Gyllenhaal Is Always Fantastic.

Some Good Horror Moments.

An Interesting Concept.

Cons.

The Terrible Cast.

The Smug Sense Of Self This Film Has.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Eden Lake: Broken, Boring and Blatant

‘Eden Lake’ is a British horror film written and directed by James Watkins. The plot sees a couple going on holiday to a quarry, in some unnamed part of England, whilst there they are stalked by a group of young people, who want to torture and eventually kill them.

I find this film offensively bad. My main issue with it, and if you don’t like politics sorry skip to the next paragraph, is that it demonises the working class in Britain. ‘Eden Lake’ was one of those films that explored the idea of ‘Broken Britain’ much like it’s contemporary ‘Harry Brown’. The issue with these sorts of films is that it often portrays the narrative often from a very middle-class viewpoint, this film especially. We are supposed to be scared of the dangerous ‘chav’ kids, rather than think of the sort of life they have had that has led them to this point. This whole narrative to me feels cheap and exploitative. Furthermore, it perpetuates this false idea that if people of means leave a big city or their home, they will be immediately forced into danger.

Not only that, but the writing feels like a collection of horror clichés with the protagonists Steve (Michael Fassbender), and Jenny (Kelly Reilly), being written to be the dumbest possible characters. You know when you watch a horror film and you are saying to yourself, “Switch The Lights on” or “Don’t Go Up There”, but they do it anyway, as they seem programmed to do the dumbest possible people and they do things that nobody would do in that situation: well that’s how the characters are here. I like horror films like ‘You’re Next’ where the characters are actually written with some intelligence, rather than deliberately doing stupid things that put them in danger and then just sitting around to face the consequences. Yes, I know a lot of the time characters are written like this to advance the plot or to set certain scenes up, but once again it feels very lazy.

Overall for a cheap low budget British horror film, it could have been a lot worse, but even still it doesn’t excuse the weak class baiting sort of writing and the paper-thin characters. I am glad that Fassbender and Reilly went on to bigger and better things and this film can be thrown in the bin of history and left to be forgotten.

Pros.

It’s Not The Worst Film I Have Ever Seen.

Cons.

It Feels Cheap.

It’s Manipulatively Written.

It Doesn’t Belong In Modern Times & It Has A Bad Message.

The Characters Aren’t Even Paper Thin, They’re Somehow Lesser Than That.

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Creep 2: Netflix, Give Mark Duplass All Your Money Please

‘Creep 2’ is a found footage psychological horror film directed by Patrick Brice. The plot this time sees online personality Sara (Desiree Akhavan), answer serial killer Josef (Mark Duplass), here called Aaron’s online ad, to film him for the day. He has lost his drive as a serial killer and is stuck in a rout: as such he wants Sara to make a documentary about him to try and relight the spark, he once had for killing.

This film does something very few other films can do, it manages to one-up its fantastic predecessor. ‘Creep 2’ plays up the more comedic elements of the film this time around and it makes for a hilarious experience that also has some great chilling moments: managing to not only do justice to these two elements but do them fantastically well.

Duplass is terrific once again, proving that comedians do horror really well, he manages to make this evil serial killer likeable and to an extent sympathetic. It turns out midway through the film that Aaron plans to kill himself at the end of the day and have Sara carry on his work, this is genuinely shocking and you don’t see it coming. The relationship between the two is simply fantastic it has shades of mentor-mentee, but also shades of a serial killer couple. The ending of the film is highly suggestive that there will be more for these two in the future.

From a dark comedy perspective, this film is a masterclass it compares being a serial killer to being a director who is on a downward spiral and to me that is incredibly funny. The humour works really well and meshes with the tone perfectly, both Akhavan and Duplass have moments of comic genius.

Akhavan is amazing, she has a fantastic repour with Duplass and the two do great things, I would like to see her come back in the future and maybe become a serial killer herself. She meets Duplass’s crazy and raises it.

Overall this film is a triumph and manages to one up a magnificent first entry, the relationship between Sara and Aaron is great and something I want to see explored more in a third film. If you like  ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ you will like this, I guarantee it. By playing up the more comedic aspects ‘Creep 2’ is elevated to a whole new level.

Pros.

Akhavan Is Amazing.

So Is Duplass.

Serial Killer Couple?

The Ending.

Cons.

I Want More.

4.5/5

Reviewed By Luke

Bird Box: You Have To Be Blind To Enjoy This

‘Bird Box’ is a post-apocalyptic thriller film directed by Susanne Bier. The plot follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock), as she tires, to protect her children from strange supernatural entities that have taken over the world, said creatures drive people to madness if they see them. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman.

I remember when this film came out a lot of people were talking about it and it had more than a few moments in the sun. However, upon seeing it now I really don’t see what is so impressive about it, I know the novel came out years ago, but a lot of the film’s elements had been done before and better in other films like ‘A Quiet Place’ and ‘Children Of Men’. These elements are things like creatures that prey on a certain sense in this case sight as well as a family having to survive in this new world.

There is nothing new about this film at all. It is a collection of end of the world clichés and character stereotypes. Not only that, but the film puts a lot of it’s focus on the humans that have not been driven to suicide by the creatures: because they were already mad, they take up the role of the antagonists in the film and the creatures themselves almost become a secondary villain. I think this is an annoying trend that a lot of these type of films do and is also a huge missed opportunity. There are hundreds of films about humans doing horrific things to each other most of them better than this, so why does this film not choose to focus on the one thing that makes it unique it’s monsters.

What’s more, the human characters are boring, really really boring. They are really hard to care about as they just seem like a collection of characters that you have seen before, this film even wastes John Malkovich. The one character that is interesting and feels like you want to get to know her is Sarah Paulson’s Jessica, but she is killed off within the first 10 minutes of the film.

Overall this is an incredibly generic film and in this the year 2020 that just isn’t passable anymore, as we have so much choice that things like this should fail to send a message that we want better, we want characters that actually feel like characters, we want a story that hasn’t been done so many times before, and we want to see the monsters in a form other than wind!

Pros.

Sarah Paulson For The 10 Minutes We Get Her.

Cons.

It’s Been Done Better Before.

It’s Generic.

The Story Is Boring.

We Don’t See The Monsters We Are Just Told About Them.

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Favourite: Gaining The Queen’s Favor

 

‘The Favourite’ is a period black comedy film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. It revolves around two cousins Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and Abigail (Emma Stone), who are both vying to be the court favourite of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), there is no extreme these cousins/ rivals will not go to in their quest to oust the other.

This is a pitch-black comedy film and it knows it, if you have that sort of comedy sensibilities then you will think that this film is hilarious. Both Weisz and Stone are hilarious proving that they both have great comedy chops. The film takes how bleak and depressing life was in this period and makes a joke out of it at every turn. Everything in this film is played up to an almost manic degree, an example of this would be the two rival factions that run the government that both want the Queen’s attention. One of these factions is lead by Harley (Nicholas Hoult), who is a delightfully over the top hammy sub-antagonist.

There are some moments in this film where the comedy ends and there are some moments that really tug on the heartstrings, an example of this would be when Queen Anne tells Abigail about all the children she has lost. This shows how ‘The Favourite’ can shoot on both fronts and do well, both in comedy as well as in drama. A lot of this drama is done to perfection by Colman, but more on here later.

My one issue with this film is that the ending isn’t very strong. The ending is quite introspective and almost trippy in a way which doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the film, but this didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the film.

Finally, I just want to say about the phenomenal job that Olivia Colman does, this is after all the film that won her an Oscar. Colman plays Anne as a broken soul, a person that has lost a lot and just wants to be loved, she has almost has a childlike innocence to her performance that makes it so tragic.

Overall, this film is a masterclass in dark comedy and if you like things like ‘The Death Of Stalin’ or ‘The Thick Of It’ you will find something to like here, the film is let down by it’s ending, but is fantastic in every other respect.

Pros.

Genuinely Funny.

Also Has Great Emotional Stakes.

Weisz And Stone Are Both Fantastic.

So Is Colman.

Cons.

The Ending Is Disappointing.

3.5/5

Reviewed By Luke