Train to Busan (2016)

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 I’ve been a fan of Zombie movies since I was a wee little lad in the early 80’s.  Of course it started with “Night of the Living Dead”, and advanced further with the campy, but fun, “Return of the Living Dead”.  We also can’t forget “Day of the Dead” or “Dawn of the Dead”.  But somewhere in the 90’s, the zombie genre can’t of died (yes pun intended).  In the 2000’s, we would see a string of hit or miss zombie flicks.  Among them the reboot of Dawn of the Dead and “Resident Evil”.  Interest for the living dead grew, as they are the movie equivalent of escape rooms.  It was fun to discuss with friends and loved ones what you would do in that scenario.  Popular books were written, like “The Zombie Survival Guide“, one of my personal favorites.  We witnessed the genre become one of the most popular television shows with AMC’s, “the Walking Dead”.

But, as the market became more and more saturated, zombie movies were severely polarized into great, or a 1 star Netflix movie.  They became too formulaic, predictable, and just down right terrible.  I accidentally watched “Train to Busan”, while the wife and I were trying to decide on a scary movie to watch, and for some reason, this one caught my attention. The movie is like a formulaic George R.R Martin story.  But, every played out characteristic of a zombie flick, was done right.  It was the perfect storm.  The gore was there, but not gratuitous.  The different character representations were there; the coward, the man who receives redemption, the betrayed, the kid, etc.

I think what made this movie great, what the physical acting, and the fact that it was subtitled.  I don’t speak Korean, so I can’t judge the delivery of the dialogue.  The actors had to sell me on it with their physical expressions and holy shit, did they ever deliver.  The acting was phenomenal.  Their delivery really suspends disbelief.  Even the kid was great.  There were points in the movie that made me tear up, and anyone who knows me, knows I only do that when a dog dies.

The movie is 1 hour 58 minutes, but seemed much longer, in a good way.  Its equivalency is like a roller-coaster that makes you think it’s over, but then launches you again.   And to think, this is all based on a simple concept of surviving in a contained, but tight environment.

I highly recommend this work of art.  Watch this film and let us know what you think.

NETFLIX

 

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Middleburg Film Festival 2017

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 Sup, Nerds! It is with great honor to announce that Brendan and I will be covering the Middleburg Film Festival beginning October 19th thru October 22nd. This will be our first year at this event and hopefully, not the last. We just wanted to take a quick second to share the exciting news and to thank you all for helping our blog grow. We couldn’t have done it without you.

 Many Thanks- Brendan & Stephanie


About Middleburg Film Festival

Middleburg Film Festival offers four days of fantastic films in a spectacular setting, only 30 minutes from Dulles International Airport and just one hour from Washington, D.C. A carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films will screen in an intimate theatre environment, followed by fascinating Q and A’s with world-renowned filmmakers and actors. The films include Oscar contenders, festival favorites, foreign films, regional premieres, and both narratives and documentaries. Festival attendees will also be able to experience the natural beauty, food, wine, and warm hospitality of Middleburg.

To learn more, check out their website: https://middleburgfilm.org/the-festival

 

#MFF

 

Power Rangers

PR.jpgReleased January 13, 2017 / Directed by Dean Israelite

I won’t start with a synopsis, seeing as Powers Rangers have been around for over 20 years. I will start off with saying this is not the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that I loved in the early 90’s. I was hopeful when I first saw this trailer and I can say that this film was a huge let down. Don’t get me wrong, the original television show was not the greatest but it was campy in its own fun way. I know this review is old but I needed to write it. I grew up on the original and wanted to make my voice heard. Plus, why have a blog and not say what I want.

It seemed as though, this new set of rangers were not friends (unlike the original and spin offs that followed) but kids stuck in detention for whatever reason.  You have the Billy (brains), Jason (athlete), Kimberly (princess), Trini (basket case) and Zach (a criminal?). What does all of the spell… THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Literally! It was so obvious and watching their so called bond form was like watching a remake of breakfast club and not in a good way. I didn’t feel any chemistry between any of the actors, it’s not to say that they weren’t friendly off screen but it was not convincing on screen. Zordon came across as whiney and in no way, shape, or form a mentor, whereas the original Zordon guided the rangers, to find their strengths within themselves and each other. This version of Rita Repulsa I kind of liked, but the execution was all wrong. I like the concept of her being the original green ranger but her constant need for gold was laughable. She sounded like Goldmember.

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Last up for the negative is the soundtrack.  Did Daft Punk or Michael Bay create the soundtrack, because that is literally what it sounded like. It was almost as if Transformers & Tron had a soundtrack baby and not in a good way.

There were a couple of things I appreciated from this reboot, the main one being that they had a Power Ranger who was autistic. For personal reason, that was very much appreciated. The only other thing I liked from this reboot was the scene where all of them were assembling into the Megazord. They created it the same way as the original, with the same theme song.

Overall, this movie was crap and I will make no apologies for it. With any film reboot, if you’re going to do it, make it better or tell a new story. With some aspects of this film, they had the idea but did not execute it properly. Even the cameo from the original pink and green ranger Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank were subpar. Saban should have let the Adi Shankar and Joseph Kahn bring the dark version of Power Rangers to life. Their fan film was phenomenal and with Beek & Sackhoff as the green and pink power rangers was a great cast move. I won’t bother posting a trailer for this reboot, instead ill post the fan film that you should watch, if you haven’t yet.

 

 

Atomic Blonde

ab.jpgReleased 7/28/2017 Directed by: David Leitch

Atomic Blonde is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. This spy thriller set in 1989 Berlin, MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) must obtain a stolen list of Western spies, while the city around her descends into chaos and revolution. Working with local station chief David Percival (James McAvoy), her pursuit leads her to uncover a much larger conspiracy. Toby Jones, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Eddie Marsan co-star.

If you want a beautiful , female Jason Bourne, then your prayers have been answered. Charlize Theron more than delivers as Agent Lorraine Broughton. But this comes as no surprise.  I can’t think of another actress in Hollywood that has her combination of beauty, acting chops and believable “grit” . This is a role practically MEANT for Theron! Also, James McAvoy is absolutely rocking, as a guy you feel as though you should like but can’t quite bring yourself to it. It’s not quite as head-turning as his work in “Split” but he truly continues to prove himself as an actor to keep your eye on in a big, bad way.

Solid directing, good pacing and GREAT action!  I can’t think of an action film with a strong female lead this solid since “The Long Kiss Goodnight” with Geena Davis.  I’d maybe give ” Haywire” with Gina Carano an “Honorable Mention” in this category . All in all, money well spent and a good time.

Oh, and the fight scene in the stairwell ….worth the price of admission alone!

-Cleary

Dunkirk

Dunkirk

Released 7/21/2017 Directed by: Christopher Nolan. 

Before I give my thoughts, a quick history lesson…The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940, during World War II. The operation was decided upon when large numbers of British, French, Belgian, and Canadian troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the Battle of France.

Now that we’re all caught up…this is NOT a war movie, but a movie about a war. About the people affected by it.

It’s a story told from 3 different viewpoints.  A soldier on the beach hoping for / awaiting rescue. A British Air Force pilot making his way to Dunkirk.  And a civilian father and his two grown sons answering the call put out to the the public that was essentially ” If you have a boat, please get to Dunkirk”.

 And it’s in this approach that Director Nolan succeeds. It’s about the human element. Not the bombs and bullets. Not the politics.  PEOPLE.  

Aside from a few notable names (Kenneth Brannagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy) this movie is chuck full of unknowns which also adds to the validity and sincerity of this film. Beautifully filmed, directed and acted.  It never lets up. Never lets you off the hook.  And won’t let you forget it. 

In this ” Summer Blockbuster Season” , try a film about people, about lives. A film with a story to tell.

-Cleary

Dunkirk

Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story

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A couple of weeks ago I watched the documentary “Be Here Now”. It tells the story of Andy Whitfield, best known for his lead role in the hit television show, Spartacus, which first aired back in 2010. Andy wowed the public with his performance as Spartacus so naturally, everyone was shocked when the news of his diagnosis of Lymphoma broke.

 “When we decided to do this, we felt that if we’re going to go through something like this, let’s see what we can learn and share. Otherwise, it’s just another wasted journey.” – Vashti Whitfield

Andy and his wife decided to document his second round of treatments and while this was an extremely difficult thing to watch, it was all the more beautiful. In watching the documentary, it hit home. I remember watching my little sister go through the different stages of treatment. She was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), when she was 18 months old, and how it breaks down all the good cells in the body. Luckily, my sister has been in remission since she was four years old.

So, as I was watching Andy and his family go such a tremendous battle of life, it was both hard and relatable. The thing is, when watching this documentary, you know it doesn’t end well, and so this made it all the more difficult to get through. Andy was quite a vision to behold. He was a gorgeous man to say the very least and his acting was captivating. I was completely mesmerized by the way Andy and his wife looked upon each other and spoke to one another with this amazing outlook of life. They both had this complete faith in manifesting whatever you may want in life by simply believing it is already yours and for most, it is not something that can be believed whole heartedly. However, in their case, this is how they lived their lives and for the most part, they achieved all that they wanted. While one of these things could have been Andy living a much longer life than he was able, it seemed that they really understood and accepted that this was just a part of their journey. They chose to live their life to the absolute fullest and in doing so, they approached each day with optimism and love. You truly feel and see the beauty in their journey and while difficult, it is something I recommend all to see. It really shows the viewer that while life can be very messy, there is so much beauty to behold and it is important to enjoy all that life has to offer and accept each moment with love and gratitude.

Click below for the trailer. Watch the full documentary on Netflix.

x Steph Cardozo

Life

Logan

Logan

Plotline in a nutshell…
It is the year 2029 and mutants are all but extinct. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is living in obscurity as a limo driver just over the Mexican border, while also taking care of (Professor) Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). He is approached by a woman, who previously worked for a company called “Alkili-Transigen”, a front for the Canadian Weapon X program that was responsible for the “weapon” Logan became. She entrusts him with an 11 year old girl, Laura (X-23) with the goal of getting her to the Canadian border so that she might cross to “Eden”, a “safe haven” of sorts for the few remaining mutants.

That being said, I have been a MAJOR fan of Logan/Wolverine since the early 80’s. Hell, he was my first tattoo. So for me this film was a bit personal. When they made the first X-Men film my first thought was “If they get Wolverine right the rest will take care of itself”. Then, they cast Hugh Jackman. Right from the start, miscast in the eyes of many Wolverine fans. Too tall. Logan is supposed to be around 5’4″.  But in that first scene in the bar, I was convinced. And in the years and films that have followed Jackman has more than earned his stripes. He took the character seriously and yet also made it his own. Unfortunately, the “Wolverine” we’ve seen in the X-men films has been decent but not quite right. He’s been “watered down”.  His last film “The Wolverine” was as close to the good old John Byrne/Frank Miller days as we’ve gotten.

And now we have LOGAN.  We have the Logan we’ve been waiting on for years. It’s brutal, it’s raw, it’s violent, and yet it’s also sweet and nostalgic. Logan is the movie the fans deserved and been waiting for. It’s appropriate that it’s simply titled “Logan” because it’s simply about the man, not the superhero. Especially poignant is his relationship with Xavier. Because it subtly reminds us that Logan’s trust, loyalty and respect is HARD earned. So when we see how he’s taken on the role of Xavier’s caretaker, we see the – if I may dare say- affectionate side of Logan. And his sense of hard-earned loyalty.

All in all I consider this the BEST of the X-men series of films. Well written, acted, and directed.  Also, Dafne Keen as Laura? For her age, she was amazing. Straight up mesmerizing. Despite this being a comic book film, Hugh Jackman could easily garner a nomination for a Golden Globe or Oscar.  Possibly his best performance ever (and that’s saying a lot).

Much like Stallone did with Rocky Balboa and Rambo, Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold say goodbye to Logan with respect, dignity and grace.

-Cleary