11 FlowersStefan Bugryn
A young boy experiences the Cultural Revolution in China in a very confronting, personal way.
This is a child's point of view of a very turbulent time for China, a tale of a poor family in a small town. There is a creepy, almost ominous feeling beneath the narrative, but the whimsical playfulness of the main character and his young friends break the gloom and manage to keep the tone light for the most part. Despite the actors' very young age, their performances are actually quite commendable. The visuals, even though filtered with many bleak colours, are quite rich and powerful, and are as beautiful as a 100 flowers for the eye.
127 HoursStefan Bugryn
A man gets stuck under a boulder while he ventures out alone to a canyon in Utah.
It is quite obvious the film-makers wanted the audience to feel like they were right there with the protagonist throughout this harrowingly absorbing ordeal. At times it almost feels like a 'docu-drama'. There's an abundance of uncomfortable close ups as the storyline is confined to that wretched canyon, while 'that scene' is unflinchingly realistic (you won't ever forget it!). In doing so, they created a film experience that is both gruelling and rewarding, and will leave you deep in thought afterwards. Every minute, and hour, is worth it.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterStefan Bugryn
The prolific American President leads a double life as one of history's greatest vampire-hunters.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is basically an action movie for teenage boys. The bumbling script and rushed back-story means you don't really care for any of the characters or their motives. However, even though it starts off as a no-brains fang-banger, it actually becomes bizarrely interesting watching historical events woven with outrageous fiction. Don't be mistaken, this is mostly a pretty stupid film, but seeing an infamous American president slaying evil spirits against the backdrop of a historically famous era, only just saves it from sucking completely.
The story of an aging couple who are crippled by the devastating effects of a stroke.
"Amour" acts like a claustrophobic, tightening grip that doesn't let you breathe until the credits roll, and is certainly an uncomfortable movie to watch. Just as one of the visiting characters states, "...I had a beautiful and sad moment with you", which is exactly what this experience feels like; an observational look at a couple's silent yet divinely emotional demise into old age. The discreet moments and absence of music can be deafening, adding to the overall and ever-increasing sense of tension and sadness. Lots of tough love for the audience.
A powerful billionaire goes to desperate measures to sell his crumbling empire and keep his secrets.
This film will leave you pondering just how many stories like this happen in real life. Many, no doubt. The lead actor, though probably not deserving of any awards, will convince you it does. He is a smooth operating anti-hero that keeps up appearances to keep out of jail. It is electric, intense, startling and thoroughly enjoyable. It's slick in every way, both in production values and storytelling. The unusual way it ends, may disappoint some, but a good script is one with surprises, and there will definitely be those who will enjoy it.
A fading actor tries to reclaim his past glory by starting a Broadway play.
"Birdman" is a remarkable movie. Its a continuously moving story in narrative, emotion, and camera-work. It feels like one unbroken scene, pieced together with a seemingly single shot. We're situated more like an observer than an audience, peering over shoulders and watching a man's life falling apart piece by piece. More European in style than American, it's still intangibly Hollywood. The highlight is the performances, you can't walk away without remembering them. It's all really unique, almost a little absurdist at times, but definitely worth your time. High in the pecking order.
Black SwanStefan Bugryn
A young ballerina struggles to keep her sanity as she prepares for the lead role in 'Swan Lake'.
Walking into this movie is like going on a ride in a theme park. Your emotions are ripped from your chest and thrown around like a rag doll as you get dragged through this beautifully depressing story. It is emotionally intense, and will stir up a lot of sensations deep in the heart of many audiences. A warning; some scenes will make the squirmish writhe in their seats, as it can be very confronting. However, it is an absolute triumph in every single aspect. Only the truly stilted will walk away unmoved.
Caesar Must DieStefan Bugryn
Inmates of an Italian prison rehearse a performance of Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'.
The line between reality and fiction are blurred here, where prisoners are acting in a script within a script, and follow the play in and out of real life. The whole film is a novel concept, but it doesn't work perfectly. It has its moments, but the fact that you aren't invited to care about any of the characters doesn't help its cause. Like the prisoners themselves, it tries hard to be quite important, but it's nothing too special. Watch this only if you want to experience something different.
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery.
All the audience needs to know is this movie is nowhere near as cool as it sounds. "Chronicle" might have its moments, like a seriously awesome action scene towards the end, but as for the rest, it simply falls short of being anything really unique. Instead, it will be left to your imagination to fill in the gaps of what it could've been. Sometimes the film is just plain awkward to watch, thanks in no large part to the B-grade scripting, dialogue, special effects, acting... pretty much all of it. Chronicle this one as 'fail'.
A woman puts herself through long years of law school to prove her convicted brother of innocence.
This movie has all the makings of a textbook 'midday telemovie'; true story, appeals to older females, very sentimental and touching. However, it's a step above the rest, and well worth watching. It is extraordinary to learn about this real woman, who commits her whole life to saving her brother. The acting is amazing, especially from the lead actress who is fantastic in her portrayal of the real life heroine. The directing is sometimes lacklustre, and it feels like it could have harnessed the emotions a lot more. Otherwise, convict yourself to this one!
Countdown to ZeroStefan Bugryn
An intensive look at the atomic bomb, from its history, to where it's at now, and where its heading.
Much like any other documentary, if you don't have an underlying interest in the subject matter, you won't engage with the narrative. This is no different for "Countdown to Zero". There are tidbits of interest, but there's probably not enough 'wow' factor to suck everyone in. Lucky for some, what could have been a harrowingly complex story full of jargon and gobbledygook has been simplified for a wider audience. But if you don't like bombs, then you just don't like bombs. Stay for the countdown if you want.
Due DateStefan Bugryn
A father to be is forced to share a car across America with an aspiring actor to make it to his child's birth.
"Due Date" is a road trip comedy that warms your heart more than it makes you laugh. It starts off rather slow and unfunny, but just like the trip itself, gains momentum as it goes along. Sprinkled with bittersweet moments, its exterior is very much a masculine buddy movie, but it has a heart of gold underneath. It rewards the viewers with an emotional subtext that makes you laugh louder and appreciate the characters more. Worth the trip!
A domestic wife to a rich husband resorts to desperate measures to secure an inheritance for her son.
This is the kind of a movie where you feel like you're always waiting for something to happen. You just hope the ending is worth all the dull, overly drawn out moments you sit through. In short... it's not worth it. The director might call it suspense, but it resonates only as disappointment. There is no real reward for your patience. The cinematography and acting are both sumptuous, but they don't make up for what’s lacking; any true moments of real, hard hitting drama. Ele….Nah!
Enter the VoidStefan Bugryn
A drug dealing youth is killed in Tokyo, and drifts through the city in death watching over his sister.
"Enter the Void" is an experimental film that literally takes you on a beautiful journey through life and death. It's very dreamy and trippy, delving into a kaleidoscope of colours and pictures that can often be mistaken for an exploration of space. The narrative is powerful, often intensely emotional, and is shot almost entirely from the protagonist's view, which makes it all the more engaging. The dark themes and visual onslaught will make it hard viewing for the faint hearted, but all others will love entering the void.
Ex MachinaStefan Bugryn
A programmer spends a week with a tech prodigy who is developing his own artificial intelligence, but things begin to unravel as days pass...
Sometimes science fiction is more enjoyable when it is grounded in reality. "Ex Machina" is heightened by this very sense. Its engrossing storyline feels like it could be happening somewhere behind the scenes, even now. The impact of this film delivers more than just ideas to be imagined. The visual palate, filmed sumptuously in an almost dream-like location, could be plucked straight out of a magazine. It delights on many levels, and like an ex, will be hard to forget.
First LoveStefan Bugryn
Three young girls share their love of the waves as they make a trip to Hawaii.
This film is a hidden gem. As the title suggests, you fall in love with these young playful girls as you follow their inspiring passion for surfing. You get swept up in their carefree attitudes, and it really does make you want to pick up a surfboard and hit the waves! It is stunningly shot, where every shot looks like a masterpeice. It almost feels like a young girls scrapbook, where even the soundtrack and editing add to the lively tone. Don't miss this one.
Get LowStefan Bugryn
An old hermit throws himself a funeral party... while he's still alive.
This thoughtful meditation on forgiveness starts out as a comedy, but unravels to become something much more poignant. The joke of the 'funeral party' lasts only briefly, while the true drama slowly creeps in. What really makes this film work is the fine acting by the three leads. The odd sense of humour, and some truly touching moments are delivered with marvellous poise by the cast. Combined with stylish music, customers and production design, it makes for a very enjoyable movie... and that's the low down!
Two astronauts try to make it back to Earth after an accident leaves them stranded and adrift in space.
This is a triumph in film-making. It's a captivatingly visceral and immersive experience grounded by jaw dropping visual effects and sound design, complementing one of the most engaging stories of survival you will see. So much truth is given to every aspect of the journey, making it feel incredibly authentic and genuinely absorbing. "Gravity" is edge-of-your-seat drama and action that will remain with you long after the credits roll. A modern classic.
Hobo with a ShotgunStefan Bugryn
A homeless man turns himself into a shotgun-toting vigilante, blasting away the mindless crime that surrounds him.
You know exactly what to expect when you walk into a movie titled "Hobo with a Shotgun". It's B-Grade action juiced up on steroids, with a million gallons of blood, but that's the fun of it! The one liners would put any cheesy 80's flick to shame, and the body count would make any action hero blush. Some people will walk out after ten minutes, others will talk about it for ten years. Just like the Hobo says, it's kinda' like goin' on a car ride to hell... and you're riding shotgun.
Holy MotorsStefan Bugryn
The mysterious Monsieur Oscar spends a day vaulting from one persona to the next…
Be warned: this surrealist fantasia is one hell of a challenge. Like an abstract painting, precious little is explained, and almost everything is open to interpretation. More questions are raised than answered, which will no doubt instigate discussion and arguments after viewing. Sadly, the majority of those questions are just plain pretentious, self indulgent, and weird. It will confound, confuse, shock, tease, frustrate, and ultimately, divide the audience. If it doesn't captivate you, it will simply disgust you. But that's the beauty of cinema, right? Well, not for everyone.
How I Ended This SummerStefan Bugryn
Tensions rise between two russian men stationed in antartica when one keeps a life-changing secret from the other.
The strength of this movie is in its use of suspense. There is no shortage of 'edge of your seat' moments, and the cinematography is brilliant. Yet what could have been a modern-thriller-classic is ruined by odd periods of... well, nothing, as it seems to linger on many shots for no apparent reason at all. This puts a dent in the pacing of the film, and makes it much longer than it should be. Still highly original, and a good way to end any season.
In a Better WorldStefan Bugryn
The lives of two danish families take a turn for the worst as their children form an unhealthy friendship.
This art house film doesn't really go past the point of 'enjoyable'. The so-so storyline is redeemed somewhat by decent acting and rich visuals, but it won't really glue you to the screen the whole time. Don't be mistaken; there are some very hard hitting scenes - the problem is that they're emotionally weak, despite the fact it delves into some pretty heavy themes. It almost feels like an extended version of a Danish soap opera. In a better world, this would have been a better movie.
A family is haunted by evil spirits who try to embody their comatose child.
This has to be one of the scariest movies made in a long time. As a narrative, it doesn't break any new boundaries, but uses old-school shock tactics extremely well. It thrives on familiar moments like 'what's around the corner?', and 'who made that noise?', whilst slowly revealing the plot (and genuinely horrific creatures) as you go along. There are odd moments of humour that break the mood and don't belong in the film, but as a salute to the Hollywood Book of Horror, it is a frightening treat.
It FollowsStefan Bugryn
A young woman is relentlessly pursued by an evil curse after having sex with someone.
What stands out in this film, and what will stay with you the longest, is the soundtrack. The otherworldly, ethereal, 80's synth soundscape creates an incredible dynamic to the drab suburbia world the characters inhabit. It adds tremendous strength to the story itself, which fully encompasses an overbearing fear of the unknown. Anyone and anything is a threat. This psychological terror, never fully explained, evokes feelings of paranoia, which continue to follow you as you exit the cinema. It, Entertains.
After being set up by a corrupt Texan business man, an ex-Federale unleashes a violent rampage of revenge against anyone who stands in his way.
This film can be summed up using three B's; brawn, babes and bullets. It runs along a revenge plot that breaks no new ground in terms of writing, which will no doubt bore and annoy some audiences. But it actually indulges in its own gratuity, and lets the cheesy violence and cool one-liners reign supreme. It is almost entirely overtly cliché, yet it's obvious that this is the intention. Don't expect an Oscar winner, because this surely would never make the 'cut'. Otherwise, it's slashing good fun!