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 clich├ęd 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.  


   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.

K: "Now You See Me" 2013

“Now you see me” is a story which follows four street-magicians on their way to becoming the biggest magic-sensation in the world. It’s full of will-definitely-leave-you-in-awe magic tricks and the cast consists of mainly A-list actors - such as Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, etc. The plot is simple - four magicians, who call themselves the Four Horsemen, rob a bank during one of their shows. This alerts FBI and Interpol, which leads to a 115 minute long intense hunt.
      Now the thing is, I really really really loved it. I’ve seen it four times now and I still can’t get enough. It’s vivid and unique and the visuals in this movie are amazing, reminding me of BBC’s new Sherlock series. The idea is great and overall it’s a fun and enjoyable movie. But as I talked to people with critical minds (perhaps... Laura? What?! No! Why would you think that?), I soon understood that there is, I must admit, something wrong with this movie. And after thinking about it for quite some time now, I finally know what it is.
      Character development. Or the lack of it. There are these four awesome main characters, about who we know so little of. And then there’s the FBI, again, about who we know nothing about. AND then there’s Morgan fucking Freeman’s character, who seems so promising, but once again.. AND THEN there’s this Millionaire, played by Michael Caine, who doesn’t fit with the scenario but kinda just is there. They’re all just thrown in together without any meaning behind the characters. This is the biggest problem with “Now you see me” and why it’s crossed out of the promising Oscar nominees list. Fast-paced tempo of the movie and insanely awesome plot alone doesn’t make a movie great. But still, I loved it.
      Mainly because of the cast. They all seemed so natural together and the on-screen chemistry was obvious. You should go see it because of Morgan Freeman’s voice only, the way he explains the magic tricks with his husky, velvet voice... Yeah, anyway, uh, the cast, yeah. Great. I’m a bit afraid that Jesse Eisenberg will be typecasted from now on as the nervous awkward smartass he’s been playing for quite some time now, though he nailed the part with absolute perfection. Melanie Laurent is as always, pleasing to the eye, but her character really has no point and is rather disturbing, with her forced on romance. Oh, and the younger Franco-brother Dave... Let’s just say that there’s a reason I’ve seen it four times and probably will see again. I have a serious weak-spot for Franco-brothers. Dave does a great job as the fourth horseman - the kid trying to be adult. Ruffalo seems angrier than Hulk, seriously. Whenever he’s on the screen he yells, argues or gives commands while yelling or arguing. Still likeable and great. Oh, and I almost forgot - WOODY HARRELSON - amazing as always. One of the most interesting characters in this movie, wish there was more to that horseman. His lines are the funniest.
      “Now you see me” is awesome because of its constant twists and turns. It’s like there’s no protagonist or antagonist, you can’t tell who you’re rooting for. The biggest twist is the ending, which you will either hate or love. It’s fun, fast and awesome, go see it without high hopes - you’ll never be disappointed when doing so!

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