Category Archives: Drama

The Iceman (2012)

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The Iceman (Crime, Biography, Drama, Thriller 2012) (15) D: Ariel Vormen: W: Morgan Land (screenplay), Anthohny Bruno (book): C: Michael Shannon, Winoa Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans 1h 46m. USA.

 TAGLINE : Loving husband. Devoted father. Ruthless killer.

 Synopsis: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

Luke warm and sentimental melodrama of a heartless serial killer Richard Kuklinski. The original story of this ruthless mob based killer could write the most chilling and gritty crime film by simply details a disturbing childhood, and the various stone cold assassinations he preformed during the four decades that he killed over 100 people in many grisly ways. Unfortunately film encapsulates a mushy warm non eventful drama version in which Kuklinski emerges as a compulsive murderer who’s pussy whipped by the mob but takes on the role of their very own terminator to fulfill his need to kill.

Michael Shannon gives a solid performance in a character that is only similar to w Kiklinski, this doesn’t develop or grow as the movie plods through the timeline missing out most gruesome details.

Starting out not with the traumatic childhood but instead the life of Kuklinski as a quiet mild mannered decent guy, falling in love with Deborah (Winona Ryder) later to become his wife and mother of his two daughters. He keeps his psychotic dealings from her while his violent streak sparks interest in the mob namely wise guy Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who gets Kuklinski into the distribution of porn movies for him then doubling up his wages through hit jobs. Soon he is out whacking people in partnership with Robert Pronge (Chris Evans) who is the tutor showing him how to freeze bodies and dispose of them later so the cops can’t determine the time of death.

There are various déjà vu scenes throughout detailing hints of a troubling childhood, possibly pointing blame in that direction. The odd change in haircut and clothing gives a hit of the times but there isn’t really any attention to details in this, no bother to link it with other historical events. The brutal slayings, family drama, mob bravado and dirty night clubs is a reminder of Goodfellas (1990 ) but without the depth in the characters, wit, or catchy soundtrack and it has no hint of the black comedy of other gangster style movies.

Iceman

Great attention is paid to Kuklinski’s character throughout, after all this is a movie about him, but the sinister nature of the iceman is translated into a the many stony faces Shannon, not giving much emotion or depth when dealing with killings or his family, makes the film stagnant. There is a lot more going on with the mob politics which is important but the interesting aspects about Kuklinski lie more within the beast inside the man, He kills people, a lot of people but there are only a few scattered death scenes, a montage or two would have been fierce, instead we are presented with an opaque peep into what we already know. If there is a movie to be made of this real life devil then it will deal with coarse details of the murders, and what happened outside of his mob instructions, real flashbacks of his antics as a child and more emphasis on the duality of his adoration of his family and his ability to switch that off in a second then back on again. He was cold but he had character a lot of it, but it’s lacking in this film.

Yet this film does demonstrate an accurate timeline of events, the acting is good throughout but it’s just lacking that kick to the gut, that real shock and horror of events. It is certainly effective and is one of the better serial killer recounts.

 06

Rating : 6/10

R: Bundy: An American Icon (2008), Ed Gein (2000), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas (2009)

Q: Mr Kiklinski, do you have any regrets about the things you’ve done?

BS: Ending Sequence where Michael Shannon re inacts part of the Iceman Tapes is the best acting in this film. He immiates Kuklinski perfectly.

L: Selected Serial Killer Films,

5B: Michael Shannon, Winoa Ryder

DGI: Chug a beer for every murder.

Tangerines – Mandariindi (2013)

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Tangerines – Mandariindi (Drama, History, War 2013) (Not Rated) D: Zaza Urushadze W: Zaza Urushadze: C: Lembit Ultsakm, Elmo Nuganen, Giorg Nakashidze, Misha Meskhi 1h 27m. Estonia, Georgia.

Synopsis: War in Georgia, Aplchazeh region in 1990, An Estonian man, Ivo has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines, In a bloody conflict at his door, a pair of wounded soldiers are left behind and Ivo takes them both in.. But they are not comrades.

Tangerines landscape

Dark poetic film from director and writer Zaza Urushadze, Ivo; a farmer and father, is the true hero, rescues two solders after a short burs of combat outside of his modest home, realising they are on opposing sides, he along with his neighbor and fellow tangerine picker Margus (Elmo Nüganen) takes on the duty to heal both men and in turn gains their respect, loyalty and trust. All Ivo wants to do is harvest his tangerine crops, in a similar vein as Mr Majestyk (1974) Ivo, alike to Charlie Bronson has a dedication to fairness and fruit, except Ivo is a bit more passive with his persuasions.. Tangerine challenges the dark of humanity and groundless prejudices, in a flawless, crisp and magnificent manner, the cinematography and music perfectly enhance the deep human drama that unfolds as Ivo and his neighbour risk everything to heal both soldiers, both physically and help to heal the mental damage and restores some basic morals with the young men who adopt him as a pseudo father. The film delivers many poignant messages; it’s bittersweet, simplistic and has a novel back-story that is embroidered through the scenes of the two soldier’s colourful insults. The ignorance and often-faceless enemy of this civil war becomes very real and exposed as brittle lies and laid to rest, as a father would deal with two bickering children. All of this is presented in a gorgeous broad landscape, with so many metaphors to look out for in this profound film, I can’t praise it enough.

 10

Rating : 10/10

R: Father of a Soldier (1965), Leviathan (2014) Ida (2013), JSA (2000)

L: Selected Estonian Films, War Films, Farmers in Films, Beautiful Landscapes

Q: Ivo “Killing a sleeping man when he is unconscious, is a sacred thing too? I didn’t know.”

TIL: Always respect your elders.

BS: When the solders think their argument has angered Ivo (after they have both started to respect him) and he leaves the dinner table, then a disembodied voice assures them that Ivo is only pissing and isn’t upset. Another breathtaking scene is when Ivo is explaining how he will see the actor put on a play after the war, that gleam in his eyes as his reminiscing isn’t something you capture on film all that often and is marvellous.

5B: Lembit Ultsakm

DGI: Not really the best for drinking games however you could knock a shot for every tangerine picked and for every insult thrown for each other soldiers.

Tangerines

Wrecked (2010)

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TAGLINE : Drama, Adventure, Mystery

A man trapped in a car wreck at the bottom of a ravine must overcome incredible odds to survive.

This was one of the last films I rented from Blockbusters before its rapid demise.

The first full length movie from director Michael Greenspan and partner in crime; writer Christopher Dodd, delivers a cold isolated thriller, in the nature of a lone man’s fight for survival after losing his memory and use of one leg following a car crash. The main protagonist, simply called Man (Brody) awakens with a broken leg, two corpses, a bag of money, amnesia, a wild dog, surreal hallucinations of Woman (Dhavernas) and is stalked by a wild cat. Through this ordeal he battles to regain his memory while traversing through the forest on the brink of starvation and fun doesn’t stop there!

It’s hard not to liken this to Essential Killing (2010), though Wrecked is far less claustrophobic and bleak, set in a lush forest utilising a broad format highlighting Brodys solitude, contrasted with gruesome extreme close shots to emphasise the detailed brutal injuries sustained from the crash.

It’s not all that bad out in the wilderness, he finds a companion, a beautiful dog who befriends him, he gets to sample the local live cuisine and takes a river ride. I’m being sarcastic, but despite the slow and quiet pace the editing keeps the story flowing. Brody has an epic screen presence which is essential in a film with such a small cast and without him the entire project would have failed.

With many trials and tribulations along the way, and a quirky twist at the end, you really feel transported along with Brody on this harrowing journey. It’s not an action film but rewards are given throughout.

Rating –  7/10

07

R: Essential Killing (2010)

L : One Man Movies, Lost

Kisha

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

BEHIND THE CANDLEABRA (Biography, Drama, Romance, 2013) (15D: Steven Soderbergh C: Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Michael Douglas 1h 58m  USA 

Based on the autobiographical novel, the tempestuous 6-year relationship between Liberace and his (much younger) lover, Scott Thorson, is recounted.

behind the

 I watched this for the first time last year.. last year!! sounds gay don’t it! it was like a week ago! I love biographical movies and to be honest I knew very little about Liberace so it was an eye opener for me. I finally class Micahel Douglas as an actor! lol He did a great job. I eneded up watching a bunch of Liberace videos on YouTube and he got it down fine!! The story is almost addictive. I adore what they did with the speical effects/make up to get everyone all hollywood fit and tucked! It was quite an interesting mockery of what the showbiz elite think is beautiful and so clever. I love it when this issue is addressed in movies like escape from LA.

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This must be the place (2011)

*THIS MUST BE THE PLACE – (Comedy, Drama 2011) (15D: Paolo Sorrentino C: Sean Penn,Frances McDormand 1h 58m  Italy | France | Ireland 

Cheyenne, a retired rock star living off his royalties in Dublin, returns to New York City to find the man responsible for a humiliation suffered by his recently deceased father during W.W.II.

thismustbetheplace

I vaguely remember seeing pictures of Sean Penn around dressed up as Robert Smith of the Cure, and people talking about a Cure movie then I heard that it wasn’t a Cure film at all.. so I never bothered with it, but Sean Penn, that hair.. news of an amazing OST. Eventually I had to check it out. It’s one of those passages of life kinda stories. Cheyenne is a fragile retired pop star living in Ireland being all glam and under the radar, When he gets news that his father has died, soon the story changes the quiet recluse pop star into a nazi hunter! Yeah it’s an unusual story which reminds me of the bizarre and surreal road trip that Wristcutters Story turned into. I adore the characters that he meets along the way, each one seems to be very carefully thought out and superbly acted. All owing themselves to Cheyennes own personal recovery, making amends with his late father and family history and dealing with the suicides of two fans. Penn plays a goth pretty well, I like the variations in dress and aversion for society while playing them.
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Gangster Squad (2013)

GANGSTER SQUAD (Crime, Action, Drama 2013) (18) D:Ruben Fleischer C: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Holt McCallany. 1h 53m. USA

Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.

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Oh I love this film even though it’s not an actual great movie. I do love the style it was carefully birthed around the same time as LA Noire I think?? Maybe not..  as we all love a 1920’s crime/ganster movie and GAME at the same time and I don’t remember them making a game for this. So La Noire will have to take it’s place. Mickey Choen was one of the lesser glorified gangsters, but then it would take a lot to knock Al Capone off the top spot. Sadly a lot of this movie reminds me too much of The Untouchables, hard working and highly dedicated cop grouping together a bunch of elite officers who share his vision to kick some gangster ass. And while the movie is about 40% slow mo ass kicking and pistol whipping it is still fairly entertaining. Sadly Penn doesn’t really look enough like Choen for it to be really all that believeable but then De Niro didn’t really every look like Capone. I felt no mega pressence from Brolin it was like the director was having a hard time trying to make Brolin tough and dumb AND Ryan Gosling adorable. The only really rememberable characters were the gun slinger and Ribisi they kidna stood out a lot more than the leads..
06

Killing Zoe (1993)

Killing Zoe

(Crime,Drama,Thriller 1993) (18D/W: Roger Avery C: Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Gary Kemp 1h 36m. USA/France

 killing zoe title

Zed has only just arrived in the beautiful Paris and already he’s up to no good. Having just slept with a call girl, he spends a night on the town with his dangerous friends

 

The movie starts out with the iconic cars scenes shot in the back streets of Paris, one of the only parts of the movie which was actually shot in France.

It was quite iconic along with a lot of early 90’s movies to have that sense of “Libertie” that Paris is supposedly all about, like Nikita and Betty Blue smashed together with films like Reservoir dogs

It addresses the language barrier quite early on.  Most of the cast will speak English when asked to unless they are going to be a pain in the ass like the concierge for example. Although you are pulled through the movie along with Eric Stolts and it’s presumed that you don’t speak any French either. It’s at this early stage of the movie that your introduced to Zoë’s character and this is when the stage is set, who and how is Zoë going to be killed. The sex scene that follows curiously has slips from the 1922 Nosferatu in it, not entirely sure why. The scenes are mostly the arrival to Whitby and the death scenes, so it loosely relates to the arrival of Eric to France, the falling in love with Zoë and ultimately death??

There are a lot of connections between this movie and Reservoir Dogs, three main factors are that RD deals with the before and after of a “job” where are Killing Zoë deals mainly with the job itself, it’s like they are alternative chapters of the same story. Also there is the Epic Tale, In RD it’s Tim Roth telling a story about a faux gangster toilet scene, killing Zoë is a bit more poignant as the joke that Bruce Ramsey/Ricardo tells is about a prostitute and its overhead by Zoë who has pointed out that she’s not a prostitute which is obviously a sore point for her. Finally there is the scene where the cop if fucked up by Michael Madsen/Mr Blonde and the security guard is equally tortured by the bomb blast during the robbery.

From the beginning of the film Eric/Jean Hugues points out that he doesn’t want anyone getting AIDS, obviously this was around the same time that Diamanda Galas was bringing awareness to the “plague” and it was big news worldwide. Again the movie is right on the pulse of Generation X’s thinking.

It’s still a mystery at this stage as Zoë has been kicked out of the hotel and you don’t see her anymore, how the hell does she get killed now?!

Religion.. I didn’t want to mention this as I don’t think it’s the correct reasoning. But I’m not an expert on the colour of bank vaults, maybe they are all painted red. I think it relates to the decent into hell and madness of the main characters. From the first scenes of the film when Eric/Zed is being taken into his hotel room the Red White and Blue colours are prolific throughout the film. It really is about the essence of France. Everyone is trying to show Eric/Zed the REAL FRANCE. Everything at first is predominantly blue with hits of red and white. The hotel/jazz club are all mostly blue in tone, then from the bank job onwards everything gets really red, as the pace quickens and the blood starts to flow.

kiklling-zoe-RWB

Back to the religion side,  of things, the first three characters could be Zed/Jesus Zoe/Mary Magdalene and Eric/Devil. Some of the imagery of him as the devil I think is amazing like the black suit, red background when he is in scene the shot where he flicks his lighter it like the fire/sparks come from him. He just needed some horns!

I have wondered what another sequel would be like, sadly there will never be another Killing Zoe as most of the characters situation, although a follow on could possibly happen as a prequel.

It has a great soundtrack by Tomandandy especially the Canaan song which is based on an old traditional medieval song. BUT it doesn’t appear on the OST. There is a version sung by a dude but not the one that appears in the drive out ending scene, not quite sure why I’ve tried to find it online but it seems the only version that exists is a recording of that final scene!! That’s what I had to do to listen to ..

There is also a cute unaccredited cameo by Ron Jeremy and something I didn’t realise is that Tom Savini did the special effects!? WOAH!

There are some really nice comedy moments in this psychological breakdown between the two friends. We never really work out, Or I never really work out why it’s called Killing Zoë. There are theories that the blood from Eric/Jean Hugues covers them at the end of the film and therefore Zoë will die from AIDS but it got everywhere, he was fucking Tai Thai as well so he’s gonna die from AIDS too if not from the bullet he took in the gut. So it’s really not about Killing Zoë. It’s probably a good time to point out that Zoë is a Greek word for life!? Who knows.

R: La Femme Nikita (1990), Leon the professional (1994) Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Joyeux Noel – (War, Drama, Historical, Music, 2005) (12) D/W: Christian Carion C: Benno Furmann, Diane Kruger, Ian Richardson . 1h 56m. France.

On christmas eve during WWI the Germans, French and Scottish fraternise and get to know the men who are on the opposite side of a brutal war, in what became a true lesson of humanity.

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This was a poignant insight into a true occurrence during the first christmas of the Great War. Although the legend of the football matches and cease fire was not generalised it did happen, along the front line and probably wasn’t as “pretty” as this film makes out but the humanity of the event is probably as sincere.

There were moments when I thought the film might just turn into a full blown singing and dancing musical but it did help display that music is a universal language as much as prayer in some cases.

The story revolved around the love affair of Nikolaus and Anna (Benno Furmann and Diane Kruger) and obviously the German, French and Scottish legions. The men decided to have a moment of clarity on an otherwise deathly Christmas eve and drop guns and celebrate together. Which goes to show that “war” is always just political action. Unfortunately the dirty work is carried out by those who don’t necessarily want any part of it.

There are lots of interactions between the men that illustrate them visiting each other and knowing each other before the war, e.g visiting one and others hotel etc. It displays that there was a unified Europe before the war.

There is a feature of this movie which plays out similar to that in Schindler’s List (1993) Where an unknown person is clearly visible, in Schindlers it was the girl in the red coat, in Joyeux Noel it is a German and his 10am alarm clock. Both characters play an important role to remind you without knowing fully, that human beings are involved here.

A lot of small comedy moments are included, it’s hard to add this into a war movie without the cast looking like ball sacks but it’s focused  on the officers and lets face it. we’re all routing for infantry.

joyeux

The language barriers are addressed in a logical way, the sets and wardrobes seem authentic to me but alas I am no historian. I was a little dubious about Benno being transported here and there at very short notice and so quickly but none of the transportation is shown, maybe to focus on the situation!? I dunno.. but he seemed to have no trouble getting out of the front line when he needed to.

The music aspect of this movie was the most annoying part, I’m not a fan of musicals myself but a catchy tune helps, understandably for this film the music had to fit. Lets just say that I didn’t rush out to get the OST. I’m pretty sure that it could have been crafted in a better way.

Another factor which shocked me a little about this film is that I knew from the start that this was WWI, no doubt about it.. but after watching for about an hour or so when one of the German officers said he appreciate the prayers even though he was Jewish I hit pause.. I couldn’t work out how a German officer could be Jewish then it finally sunk in again that it was WWI… it’s amazing how after watching so many WWII movies after hearing the German and seeing the war aspect my brain just clicked into WWII phase.. Is cinema making me racist!? Lol I kid..

This movie is quite engaging and a really compassionate insight into a small but vitally important snippet of the Great War.

T: One of the last films Ian Richardson made before his death on February 9th 2007.

Q: What the hell are you doing, Shoot the bloody kraut, shoot him god damn it the holidays are OVER!

R: Schindler’s List (1993), The English Patient (1996).

8/10

08

Happiness (1998)

HAPPINESS

(Drama, Comedy, 1998) (18) D/W : Todd Solondz  P : Ted Hope S : Dylan Baker, Philip Seymour Hoffman. 2h 14m. USA.

The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.

Happiness

From the first scene you get a pretty good indication of how raw this movie is going to be. The beginning reminded me of The ABC’s of Death (2012) As it just chucks you into the mix with no mercy.

The movie revolves around one family and their entanglement with neighbours, friends, stalkers and students, each of the main characters and associated people are all trying to find their own personal happiness, I find it strange that they all seem to think that this can be found in another person or sex, but I’m sure there are some psychologist who will argue why we do this.

The subject matter is unsettling but dealt with in a childlike way which makes it more twisted. The resident pedophile (Dylan Baker) would normally be seen/portrayed as a dirty and disgusting man, but he’s a punctual caring father with a job. He’s invisible as a peado but still rapes his son’s best friend (and makes it onto our worst fathers list). But the conclusion of this mini saga is just a simple chat with his son on the sofa, both are very honest and there is no judgement or closure. It’s scenes like this that will cause people to love or hate the movie.

There are some drawn out scenes, like when Joy’s colleague/date commits suicide and no one in the office remembers him and spend a good 5 minutes or more asking around trying to recall him. It’s scenes like this which give you time to reflect.

I adore the film; I found it totally fascinating to see an authentic look into the secretive lives of a few individuals who have very dark natures. You’ll recognise someone you know in each character and I think it’s at that point it hits home that the people around you aren’t what they seem. We all have a darker nature, maybe not all to the same degree as the people in the movie but it’s rife among us, this is what will terrify people.

I did find myself trying to predict what would happen next, with the relaxed pace of the movie you are kinda left to think.. “he’s gonna, he’s not gonna, oh my god he did what!?” You don’t really expect Dylan to drug and rape the young boy, you think with all the things that could go wrong that the kid would be spared.

You don’t see the act but you feel the realisation of the “blood in the BW” it’s like when someone says “the N word” you can’t not think Nigga.. brilliant now I’m thinking of that thing that you’re not mentioning! There are scenes which force you to think of scenarios and it doesn’t even touch on them, and it’s only because your human and as twisted as the characters that you are thinking along those lines.. Well done Mr Solondz.

R : Thursday (1998), Clive barkers History of the Devil (Radio play)

T : Director Cameo (Todd Solondz) as the doorman in Allen, Helen and Kristina’s building.

Q: “would you ever fuck me? 

no I’d jerk off instead”

“You know I wish you had told me this twenty years ago. Now I’m gonna have to get another FUCKING FACELIFT.”

 “I’m gonna fuck you till cum comes out your ears”,

TIL : Dogs eat cum!

BS : Any scene with Dylan Baker is amazing, I have such a crush on him… But the last scene with him and his son talking about his “sickness” is amazing.

9/10

09

Deliverance (1972)

DELIVERANCE

(Thriller, Adventure, Drama, 1972) (18) D :  John Boorman W:  James Dickey. 1h 50m. USA.

TAGLINE : Deliverance from Evil.

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before its turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewish Medlock takes his friends o a river rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

Deliverance

Oh man!! This is one of the more memorable movies from my childhood, although as a kid I used to get the name mixed up with Southern Comfort (1981) and as a teen I always thought there should be some boozy recovery drink called Deliverance… makes sense don’t it!?

Anyway.. This has to be the cult classic city “boy” meets hick movie!?  It certainly one of the more memorable. It’s been sampled and remixed into a ton of music, including my favourite track from Primus. In fact I heard a busker in my town centre playing the banjo song only the other week.

So what’s all the fuss about? A small group of men go out the wilderness to “rough it” and hike up a river that is going to be damned. They encounter a few local people including a great banjo playing hick kid. Now there is one enthusiast among them a outdoor loving Lewis (Burt Reynolds) who knows the theory but doesn’t really understand the practice. The rest of the crew a little more tamer and think more like the common man while Lewis is out to brave the wild, the character reminds me of Pvt Reich from Ravenous (1999). The guys encounter a group of butt loving toothless hicks and hells gates open and everything takes a strange turn.

I don’t wanna give too much away here, as I think everyone should watch films for themselves and make up their own minds about them. But you could argue so many points about the movie.  The struggle between man and nature, city boy and country folk, morals and revenge. I’m sure there have been books written on all the underlying subjects covered in this movie.

 

Q: There are too many quotes in this movie, but my favourite ones all come the hicks “You sure do got a purdy mouth” and “Where you going city boy” “Squeeel piggy” etc etc.

Deliverance and predator

BS : The actual best scene for me in this movie is the end, where the guys JUST WANT TO GO HOME.. while looking back over the area that will be flooded wondering how their lives are going to get back to normal..

The most iconic scenes are the piggy raping scene and the banjo showdown, which I was hoping would inspire Banjo Hero on the PS4 but it didn’t…

paddle faster

R : Southern Comfort (1981) Timber Falls (2007), Devils Bridge (2010)

8/10

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