Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A Circus In Pandemonium

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

There is a mole somewhere in British intelligence and a veteran intelligence officer is brought out of retirement to find out who it is.

This film is basically a who’s who of older British leading men they are all there and are all excellent. I thought it was nice to see Colin Firth and Mark Strong share the screen together, several years before they would do so superbly in the first Kingsman film, they have great chemistry. I think Gary Oldman ends up stealing the show with this performance, though it is a very close race as there is a lot of talent on display here.

I found the mystery to be engaging and surprisingly well structured, it kept me guessing right up until the end, I did not figure it out. I thought the reveal we got was satisfying in the end, though I thought the tease we got throughout the film of who could it be, With each agent looking guilty at different times was equally as enjoyable.

I found the film to be paced well for the most part with the mystery being enough to keep me engaged throughout, with the reveals and revelations being spread out enough for each section of the film to feel like it matters. The one thing I would say is that there are a few dialogue scenes in the midsection of the film that do run a bit long in terms of keeping you, or at least me, interested, they could have done with being shortened.

Overall, a strong British spy mystery film.

Pros.

The acting

The mystery

The pacing

Oldman steals the show

Cons.

A few slow dialogue scenes

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Under The Silver Lake: Paranoia Incarnate

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

David Robert Mitchell is quickly becoming one of my favourite directors, It Follows is in my top 5 films of all time and though, like I you may have heard mixed things about Under The Silver Lake it is almost as good- that is a very high compliment indeed.

I found the bizarre and often sinister world of this film to be akin to a confused nightmare, but one that is also pleasant to experience. I thought the world of this film is so vast and so well set up that it is in desperate need of a sequel. I thought it was very clever to leave a lot of the mysteries open ended, as to give them an ending and tie them off would almost be a disservice, this way the idea of what could be will endure in the viewers minds.

Moreover, Andrew Garfield is quickly becoming one of my favourite performers he is so versatile and plays strange and odd characters better than anyone else, with the exception of Nicolas Cage.

Overall, though you may have heard mixed things this film is very much worth checking out.

Pros.

The world

The ending

Garfield

The deeper meanings

Cons.

It does have bloat and could do with being shorter

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The Flight Attendant: Life After The Big Bang

The Flight Attendant is a comedy drama series based on the book of the same name by Chris Bohjalian. The series revolves around Cassie (Kaley Cuoco), a dysfunctional alcoholic flight attendant, who get caught up in a murder after her one-night stand ends up dead, Cassie ends up at the top of list of police suspects and she must set out to find who really killed this person and clear her name.

So when I put this series on I was not expecting much, I thought it would just be like every other crime thriller tv series- generic. However, I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed this show to a point where I was actively looking forward to the next episode and thinking about it when I wasn’t watching it.

This is Cuoco’s first big series after The Big Bang Theory yes she is in Harley Quinn, but that is a preestablished franchise and IP and also animated so less on her performance, as such all eyes were on her here. I have to say I was not always convinced by her acting in the BBT, but she really knocked it out of the park here, she fully sold the mania and the downward mental decline her character was going through allowing for me to completely see her as the character with any ideas of Penny disappearing.

The ultimate mystery of the series is handled well, it is not who you originally think it is, and the series goes in a few ways that surprise you. I also enjoyed how, whilst trying to solve the central narrative mystery the series also sets up lots of smaller little mysteries that will pay off when the show comes back for season two.

The wider supporting cast were also excellent Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet and Rosie Perez all have strong sense and interesting arcs.

Overall, one of the best series of last year defiantly not one to sleep on, make it your next binge.

Pros.

You can’t stop watching it

It is compelling

Cuoco

Huisman

The mystery and those yet to be revealed

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Clue: The Studio Executive Killed Him With A Lack Of Imagination

Clue is a black comedy mystery film directed by Jonathan Lynn, based on the board game of the same name. The plot sees a group of people gather together in a house under mysterious circumstances, once together people start to die one by one, and the surviving members of the party must figure out who the murder is.

So, I am quite the Tim Curry fan, as such I have heard talk of this film and it has been on my watchlist for quite some time. Upon watching it, I find it to be a mixed bag, but I find Curry as enjoyable as ever.

The idea of bringing the concept of a board game into a cinematic medium was always going to be a hard task to accomplish, but this film does give it a try. Sadly, it never manages to nail a tone or approach, sometime it borders on something like the Movie films in terms of silly parody, but then a moment later it will be taking the premise a bit too seriously for that to apply.

The cast are all serviceable, no one is bad, but no one (other than Curry) is good either. Curry has his manic energy especially towards the end of the film when he really lets loose where he is able to shine and effectively steal the film and the limelight. I would say the film would be far lesser without Curry’s involvement.

Overall, trying to adapt a board game into a film was always going to result in failure so I can’t say I am surprised. However, Curry is great.

Pros.

Tim Curry

A few good gags

Cons.

It ages poorly

The tone is inconsistent

Not all the jokes land

2/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Da Vinci Code: Hide Your Bibles

The Da Vinci Code is a mystery thriller film directed by Ron Howard. The plot follows Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he is drawn into a feud between two secrets sects of Christianity that have been around since the times of Christ.

Much like my previous review The Girl In The Spiders Web, this film came out to some fan fare as the book that predates the film is beloved, also much like that film this film struggles to meet those high expectations. I have not read the book but if the film is anything to go on, then it is about 1000 pages too long.

At times this film reminded me somewhat of the Nicolas Cage National Treasure films, though I prefer those. I think this film took itself far too seriously, which is fine as it is not supposed to be a comedy but at the same time some parts of the film were unintentionally hilarious.

Speaking off the Paul Bettany evil monk villain is easily the best part of the film. Yes, this character is hard to take seriously and is hilarious at times for all the wrong reasons, but at the same time he also has quite a few good moments including his final shootout and has a great on-screen presence and threat throughout.

Overall, the biggest issue with this film is that it is one for about an hour too long, as such the pacing is terrible and though the film has some high moments the long tedious stretches drag it down.

Pros.

Bettany

The mystery when it finally gets revealed

The world

Cons.

It is too serious

The hilarity within is unintentional

National Treasure did it better

Hanks is very average

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Widows Point: The Type Of Film You Can Make At Home

Widows Point is a supernatural, mystery film directed by Gregory Lamberson. The plot sees an author (Craig Sheffer), become locked overnight in a haunted lighthouse as a promotional stunt for his new book. However, the longer he trapped inside the more he realises something isn’t right and soon he becomes the prey of supernatural forces.

This is a bizarre film. I am not simply referring to the end that literally comes out of nowhere, but rather the film as a whole. Midway through the film there were that many flashbacks and timelines going on I quickly became lost, there is something to be said for keeping you central narrative simplistic.
Moreover, the film as a whole looked very cheap. I don’t know quite what it was about it, yes it would have had a smaller budget but other films with small budgets don’t look like this, in many ways it looked incredibly amateurish; like the sort of thing you might see presented as a student film.

The acting is similarly as bad, and not for a single moment throughout are you convinced off what is supposedly happening on screen, acting or otherwise.

Overall, a very poor film that needed to be drastically reformed to be anything close to good.

Pros.

The wacky randomness of the monster just showing up at the end

Cons.

It makes no sense

The narrative is far too complicated and also doesn’t work

The acting is god awful

It looks cheap

1/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Phenomena: Meet The Newest And Youngest Member Of The Avengers

Phenomena is an Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. The plot sees a young American girl Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly), go to a Swiss boarding school to receive an education and be out of her parent’s hair. However, once she arrives she notices that she has a strange relationship with insects, and that said relationship might be the key to solving a string of murders that is happening on campus.

Why can’t Argento make a film that does not have a serial killer or group of serial killers (Suspiria) as the main antagonist? Yes, I know obviously he must have at some point in his career, but of the film’s I’ve watched it is certainly a repeated motif and one that is starting to get tiresome.

I enjoyed the more abstract ideas here; I wish we have dived deeper into Jennifer’s powers and how and why they came out. There is a wonderfully off kilter strangeness to the whole film that is very difficult to describe but it really sticks with you after the film.

I thought the slasher elements were probably the weakest part of the film, though I did enjoy the final fight scene. It reminded me very much of Mrs Voorhees in Friday The 13th I thought it was well done, tense and effective; the face melting scene stayed in my head for a while after the film, the power of practical effects.

Overall, a strange film in a lot of ways, however that strangeness makes it what it is. Good, but I do wish Argento would stop making films about serial killers.

Pros.

The strangeness

The insect, mystical stuff

The ending

Jennifer Connelly

Cons.

The killer stuff for the most part of boring

It had pacing issues and was far too long

3/5

Reviewed by Luke   

Blood And Black Lace: Even Killers Need Dress Codes

Blood and Black Lace is a giallo horror film directed by Mario Bava. The plot sees a series of brutal murders involving models at a Roman fashion house, these murders seem to be in aim of recovering a secret laden diary.

So, this film shifts from the standard giallo to some degree we start to see more of an early proto slasher, complete with white face mask, much like the one Michael Myers would come to wear years later.

I thought the mystery of the film was probably it’s strongest part, with the focus often straying towards the killer being a good thing for the film in the long run. The mystery itself was not obvious or overly simplistic, it kept me guessing until the end, but when revealed felt natural and well built towards.

The acting is strong if a little over the top, but that adds to the charm. None of the performances particularly blew me away, but nor did they bring me out of it.

Though I can understand why this film is important, in genre, to me it just felt a bit too similar to other giallo films I have watched recently, they have all started to blend together.

Overall, though I can see it’s important the strong mystery and over the top slightly campy performances are the only selling points the rest of the film feel very by the numbers.

Pros.

The mystery

The genre importance

The over the top camp

Cons.

Very by the numbers

The characters feel quite thin

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Tenebre: Inspiration Comes In Many Forms

Tenebre is an Italian giallo mystery film directed by Dario Argento. The plot follows American novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa), who while in Rome promoting his new book becomes wrapped up in a string of murders that seems to have taken inspiration from his narrative.

This film sits somewhere in between The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Cat O’ Nine Tails for me, which is to say it is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, it is a pleasant middle ground. This is a clear return to his roots for Argento as it is far less supernatural in delivery then this other late 70’s early 80’s films and goes back to ‘classic’ giallo; though it still does have a religious spirit to it.

I thought the pacing was strong and the mystery kept you guessing up until the last minute. The twist is nothing new, it has been done many times before, but I didn’t see it coming here and though familiar it still had the desired effect and I was shocked.

The kills, which are a big part of Argento’s contribution to giallo, where somewhat anti climatic for me, compared to his earlier films. Yes, they were suitably bloody and theatrical, but it felt like he was running out of ideas here.

The acting is quite strong, Franciosa is left to do most of the heavy lifting which he does with ease, whilst also captivating your attention for the entirety.

Overall, good but not quite BWTCP levels. A break may have been needed.

Pros.

The mystery

The pacing and acting

Back to his roots

Cons.

Weak supporting cast

The kills lack enthusiasm

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Cat O’ Nine Tails: Argento’s Least Favourite

The Cat O’ Nine Tails is an Italian Giallo film directed by Dario Argento. The plot follows a blind man (Karl Malden), as he works with the police to solve a series of murders.

Of the Giallo films I have seen thus far this is by far the worst.

This film has awful pacing, some of the most egregious I have seen in recent memory. It goes on and on and you lose interest quickly. It has a large amount of bloat and a lot of the film feels like it is trying to kill time until the next reveal which it meanders then eventually gets to.

Unlike other Argento films, you don’t care about the mystery here. The plot feels very average and generic, there is no style to it there is nothing to set it apart from any number of other films. The killer, and the reveal feels very underwhelming especially when compared to Argento’s earlier film, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage.

Finally, the lead is dull and uninteresting. You don’t care about them and they feel very hard to root for. Clearly the film was going for the buddy cop dynamic, or what would later become that, of later noir films as they team the blind man with a generic police officer partner, but they just serve as another character not to care about.

Overall, a weak follow up in the Animal Trilogy and it is fairly obvious why this is Argento’s least favourite of his own films.

Pros.

I enjoyed the soundtrack

Cons.

It is hard to watch

You lose interest quickly

You don’t care about the characters

It lacks but style and substance and the killer feels bland

1/5