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L: "I Origins" (2014)

Written and directed by: Mike Cahill
Starring: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergés-Frisbey
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

My Rating:★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

When Mike Cahill and Brit Marling first worked together to make the stunning movie that is Another Earth, my mind was blown. So obviously, when I heard that they were going to make another movie together, I couldn't keep myself from getting excited. Then the trailer came out and it was wonderful. And then a little bit after that Black Nights Film Festival hit Tallinn and this film was in the schedule. So I finally got to see I Origins.
Now it took me quite a long time to gather myself and finally write about it because, sadly, I Origins just wasn't a very good movie. 
Don't get me wrong - there are moments in the movie that are truly extraordinary but these moments are rare and hidden away in a pile of unnecessary information and story lines. The narrative is so all over the place the story can't even keep up with itself. It's hard to get into details without spoiling the movie but what annoys me the most is that the basic idea behind the story is actually really interesting and could've been quite innovative if it done, well… well.
 Apart from Astrid Bergés-Frisbey (whom I really wasn't that amazed by but I think that has more to do with her character than the actress) I can't really say anything bad about the acting. (How could I if you've got Brit Marling in the movie?) Nor do I have any bad words for the soundtrack. (I'm still listening to it.) And even with the directing I had no problems with. 
I think what made this movie seem to be lacking something is ironically the fact that the script had too much in it. Also (but this is a matter of personal taste) I was not fond of the shaky cam - I realise it was probably meant to give off a sort of realistic and raw vibe but in my case, it just didn't let me concentrate as much on the movie itself. But, if nothing else, I Origins is visually stunning. That's just… it.
Oh well, I guess I'll just go back to watching Another Earth again.

WE NEED MORE COFFEE

K: "As above, so below" 2014

Directed by: John Eric Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge
Genre: Horror

My Rating:★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Before I start with another horror movie review, I have to say I live for horror movies. Freddy Krueger was my first love, Vincent Price will soon become my next tattoo and so on. So where does that leave me before seeing another horror movie? 

Freaking excited. I have the ability to ignore all the not-so-great-reviews and rumours and easily sit in a movie theatre with my poor little heart pounding and a bucket full of popcorn, waiting for the opening scene like a fat kid waits for one's Happy Meal. (Agghhhhh, Horror!)

Anyway, this time the movie was the fresh “As above, so below”. First things first - the poster looks awesome. (Second awesome movie poster this year actually.) It’s rare to find anything interesting when it comes to film marketing, especially in the trailers and posters. But the fucked up Eiffel tower and everything... Sweet.


So about the movie. It might be an unpopular opinion but I really liked it. It did what any horror movie should do - scare you and make you doubt the good and the bad in the universe. But what was special about AASB was that it was all done without using any scary music - the jump scare scenes worked perfectly fine without any build-up music and the creepy catacombs stayed creepy without the clichéd music. Romance was romance, even without a cheesy indie band playing in the backround. It worked, so major plus points for that.

Another totally worth it risk in the movie was the found footage. Which could go so wrong... ("Devil’s Due") …but worked in AASB. It may have looked forced here and there - characters having enough water/sand/falling death(?!)proof cameras conveniently laying around everywhere, but somehow it didn't bother me. As the movie took place in Paris’ catacombs and was actually filmed there, FF was the perfect solution. It gives you an odd feeling of claustrophobia while watching the movie.
There was no haunted house, no creepy dolls, no guy with a disturbing mask, no neglected asylum or exorcism. (Unlike 90% of the horror movies from the last decade.) It’s originality makes the movie. Neil Marshall's "The Descent” is the only movie in the world that I would put on the same level as AASB. And I freaking love The Descent.


So overall, ignore the haterz and have an open mind. Why not entertain yourself with an adventure story which will make you jump in your seat?

L: "Starred Up" 2014


Directed by: David Mckenzie
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend
Genre: Drama, Thriller

My Rating: 

We haven't been writing for more than a year now and, although we were planning on making a comeback soon, I did not plan to write about "Starred Up" (even though I saw it recently and was very impressed by it). The reason I changed my mind is that I happened to rewatch the trailer and realised I'm disappointed that not many have seen this.

Now I think it's safe to say that I am indeed a fan of prison dramas. "American History X" and Steve McQueen's first movie "Hunger" are among the more famous ones that have impressed me quite a bit. It's ironic that they compel me this much because I am quite an aggressive pacifist... but they do. 

I've kept a close eye on Jack O'Connell for years now, not to say I've been a fan since the first thing I saw him in. Even though I'm afraid he might get typecast just a little bit too often, he has given a spectacular performance... yet again. 
O'Connell plays Eric Love, an aggressive and troublesome young offender who is starred up and therefor transferred into a male prison, the same prison that his father (Ben Mendelsohn) serves time in. Stirring up quite a lot of trouble, Love gets written off as a lost cause by everyone in the prison except for a voluntary therapist Oliver (Rupert Friend) who is not very popular amongst the rest of the prison staff. Love is then convinced to attend Oliver's group therapy sessions.



Now even though Jack O'Connell is clearly the star in this movie, the cast is simply explosive. I'm sad to say I'm not familiar with any of the other actors in smaller parts but everyone did a very good job and I'll be sure to keep my eye out for all of them.

I wish I could say more about the movie itself because, don't get me wrong, it is a very solid movie with very good acting, believable character development and all-around gritting and intense atmosphere sure to keep you on the edge of your seat even though, action-wise, not much actually happens.
I find that in today's society everyone's angry about something. We might not be angry people but we're all angry about something. But what prison dramas usually do, is that they take the most violent examples of angry people and they analyse the reason behind their issues in a very raw, disturbing way. The reason I say disturbing is that, literally, it's hard to watch. For example, in this movie everything about the way it's filmed helps the viewer feel uneasy - the shaky cinematography, the lack of music and the unwelcoming, intense atmosphere. But if you manage to sit through it, it's exactly these things that force you to concentrate and think about it and honestly if a movie manages to do that, what more could you want?

So all in all I hope that more people see this and it gets the attention it deserves, outside the festival world as well.

L: "Moonrise Kingdom" 2012


Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

My Rating: 

  A few weeks ago me and Katrina were wondering through the streets of Vilnius, not really knowing where we're going, when we happened across a miniature cinema closed for the summer. 
   While Katrina was busy taking pictures of the graffiti on the walls of the cinema, I was trying to decipher a sign on the door which was obviously in Lithuanian. I remember clearly telling saying: "The first word has to do something with months or the moon and the second word is something related to kings." Pause. Yes, I am a complete idiot because it was Katrina who then realized what movie the sign was talking about. Katrina. Not me. Katrina, whose mother-tongue isn't Lithuanian. 
   Anyway, the sign was actually the program for the Contemporary Art Center summer cinema. (That, oh by the way, showed movies outside.) So yeah, to cut the (very) long story short - it was going to show "Moonrise Kingdom" that night and obviously we decided to go. And the cinema? Wonderful! If you're ever in Vilnius during the summer, be sure to check it out.


   So I've seen most of Wes Anderson's movies and some I liked better than others but "Moonrise Kingdom" has to be one of my favorites. Now why is that?
   Not only are the cinematography and the soundtrack charming, the whole story is so thought-through, warm and fulfilling. It can make an adult feel like a child and a child feel like an adult. (Which is how the characters in the movie feel.) Not to mention the cast, which is phenomenal and happens to include some of my very favorite actors. 
   But to me, what makes this movie so special, is how it takes real and important problems and portrays them with such childlike innocence (even for a Wes Anderson movie) that you can't help but feel rainbows and butterflies in your stomach. This movie is like a bouquet of sunflowers or a Van Gogh painting. It's like a piece of white chocolate or your childhood in a bottle. It really is special. 
   So if you ever are feeling a bit blue, watch this movie - it will surely yellow (read: cheer) you up.

L: "Man of Steel" 2013


Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe
Genre: Superhero movie, cmon

My Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

   I'm not that familiar with DC superheroes (apart from the obvious) but I do consider myself a comic fan so not watching Man of Steel didn't really seem acceptable. Having said that I bought the ticket in advance and an hour before seeing the movie I was trying to come up with ways to get out of it. So yeah, I guess you could say I wasn't pissing my pants in excitement about the new Superman movie.  

   Did I mention I hate Zack Snyder? Yeah, I will never forgive him for Watchmen. Oh, and 300 didn't exactly rock my socks off either.  

So...


   Man of Steel is the origin story of the very well known and lov- well, known, superhero which, to be fair, I wasn't really familiar with. Clark Kent is still kind-of boring, but it is a bit more fun if you think of him as an alien which he actually is.  

   Now the interesting thing is that the movie is 70% talking and 30% CGI and I remember sitting in cinema halfway through the film thinking "Oh my god, nothing really happens. There is nothing. actually. happening. They're just talking." And for some reason I wasn't that bored. At first.  

   So I realized that the thing that keeps this movie from being a well, I'll just be frank, a good movie is the fact that it's very poorly paced. I would say it's just bad screenwriting but some of the dialogue isn't half-bad. It's just that when you've got a 100 minutes of talking and talking and talking and some more talking and then over half an hour of CGI explosions and battles and "Oh no wait, he didn't die!" more battles and "Oh no wait, she didn't die!" and more battles, you're kind-of bored out of your mind.  

   And it's not like Superman is that interesting. Though to be fair, he was the only good thing about the movie. (Nice job!)   

   Oh and of course we couldn't have a good superhero movie if we didn't have a very forced romance in it. Or could we, I don't know? I guess no one's ever tried... Lois Lane sucks. TEAM Faora-Ul.  

   So in conclusion I would imagine that this movie will be enjoyed by die-hard idiot fan-boys or people who need a movie to watch while doing the dishes or ironing laundry. 'Cause it really is a bit of a bore.

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