[EXPRESSO] Top Gun: Maverick (2022) | The other kind of “dogfighting”

Guess i’m really showing my age in saying i never saw Top Gun in “my days”, but i didn’t, so i simply watched the 1986 movie literal hours before going at the cinema to see this legacy sequel.

And honestly it’s good, it’s a pretty loyal follow up that feels like a proper continuation of where we left off 36 years ago, and while of course the movie has nostalgic moments harking to the original movie, they do serve a purpose as they directly affect some of the events in this sequel, so it ain’t a naked cynical attempt at milking the feels, because the movie honestly earns it.

The plot sees Captain Pete Mitchell basically dragged back by the military to serve as a Top Gun instructor (recommended by Colonel Tom “Iceman” Kazinsky), to prepare new cadets for a secret stealth operation involving the destruction of a soon to be operative uranium refinery captured by a “bandit force”. All made more complicated as among the cadets he sees the son of his old fallen co-pilot “Goose”.

Aside from some modern technological and the more vague identity of the enemy force, it’s pretty much the same formula, where character drama and “military slice of life elements” are the main trust, with a slower pace to compliment that, and the action scenes – despite what you might remember – aren’t the main focus, while they’re important, spectacular, and quite fun, with that level of hollywood bombast allowed by the pseudo-realistic approach.

For better or worse (like it being Air Force advertising), it’s definitely Top Gun.

This sequel also has more actual plot for the narrative to “stand on”, and the slightly longer runtime is mostly to add more action scenes of aerial combat, so overall it’s solid good blockbuster fun.

[EXPRESSO] The Northman (2022) | VIKINGS, RAISE THE SHIELD WALL

Robert Eggers is back, this time not going for a psychological horror-thriller, but a way more straightforward tale of revenge, based on the legend of scandinavian prince Amleth (upon which Shakespear himself based his tragedy), here a young boy welcoming his father back, only to killed by his uncle for the throne and spouse. Amleth escapes, woving bloody vengeance.

Years pass, and as he wanders the lands as a berserker unit, he heards the name of his uncle and then concocts a plan to reach the isolated island where he scurried back some time ago, and exact his long held life-time wov made to his brutally murdered father.

And indeed brutal is the keyword here, as this movie really warrants the title of a “brutal viking epic”, as it depicts this nordic barbaric world inhabited by cruel men more akin to beasts, where pillage and murder exist on daily bases, villages hold ritual sacrifices (even human if need be) to appease their gods, mystical rites are held, witches reveal visions of inescapable fate, etc.

It’s that kind of barbarian middle ages, and The Northman sure as hell doesn’t shy away from showing raids, people being burned alive in houses (and a lot more graphic stuff), and it’s fittingly inhabited by refreshingly unapologetical, unflinchingly brutal characters that all perfectly fit in this world, as even what in other movie would be “the hero” it’s arguably even more despicable than the “villain”.

A lot of style (with Eggers’ touch easily recognizable in some weird psychedelic sequences), great characters, amazing atmosphere, superb cast and a captivating, graphic vengeance tale that enraptures from beginning to end.

It’s just hard to look away, even when a guy it’s getting an unrequested Skeletor-style “nosejob”.

To quote Nathan Explosion yet again: “Brutal”. In all the right ways.

Resurrection (1999) [REVIEW] | In Lambert We Trust

You might or might not celebrate the upcoming festivity, be indifferent, but in the spirit of the holiday, let’s take a break of sorts and on this today go away from the non-budgets or the endless parade of director-actor-producer-writer one-man homegrown created film featuring either a giant or man-sized rabbity thing (NOT of Purcellian’s descent) going around killing people.

We already “did” Beaster Day/ The Beaster Bunny, and i will have that as a representative of the “ rabbit horror movies” subgenre, with 90 % of these belonging to the “no budget” category and often more than not just being more about rabbits than Easter, see for example the previously covered Bunnyman trilogy, which at least doesn’t pretend to be themed around the holiday (as it isn’t).

So instead we’ll talk about the 1999 crime thriller Resurrection, about a detective (played by Christopher Lambert) and his partner (Leland Orser) hunting down a serial killer emerging in the weeks preceding Easter, with the blasphemous plan of creating a new Jesus Christ by sawing together body parts taken from his victims, carefully selected by following the canon, literally.

I’m honestly surprised how – aside from the tired zombie jokes – there’s barely anything in terms of actual horror movies using a similar or the same macabre idea of “my very own flesh boy, JC”, or the theme of resurrection that’s the main point and what this holiday celebrates/it’s about.

And for a nice festive surprise, it’s actually a pretty decent detective thriller, and a solid film overall, the horror element is strong, the idea of the “DIY messiah” is quite grisly and unsettling, with some good gore effects, and yes, you get to see the final frankensteined flesh conscruct, quite the thing.

Sure, it ain’t too original in terms of characters (and the flashback of the incident involving the main detective’s son it’s so trite that becomes unintentionally kinda funny, given how cheesy it is), but it’s well acted, it has a recognizable cast with great actors, even David Cronenberg acting as the red herring creepish pastor, and Russell Mulcahy’s direction (with this movie marking his continuining collaboration with Lambert after the first two Highlander movies) it’s fairly gripping, hitting all the expected beats of the detective thriller flick, with the fake outs, the religiously obsessive serial killer leaving fittingly themed Bible references on the victims, supported by the great cinematography of Jonathan Freeman and decent dialogues with a few memorable quotes.

It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a really robust offering, definitely in the decent-to-good tier of detective thrillers, it has a very young looking Christopher Lambert in it, and to seal the deal, it’s most likely streaming on Amazon Prime Video in your neck of the woods too, so if you like the premise and-or don’t want to bother with crappy Easter themed horror movies, this is an easy recommendation.

I don’t have much to say about this, in all honesty, but in this case i’d say it’s a good sign, and i’m not gonna inflate this review for the sake of it.

[EXPRESSO] C’Mon C’Mon (2021) | Kids Know

I’m not familiar with Mike Mill as a film director, but it’s shot in black and white, it stars Joaquin Phoenix? Indeed, quite the easy prey we can be.

Though, “prey” it’s honestly unfair. It’s a movie with ambition and that wants to investigate upon important themes like parenthood, family dysfunctions and all those entangle, from the constant struggle it require to the its “failings” and how it affects the children in return.

The premise for this is set as Johnny, a radio journalist famous for his interviews and documentaries, goes on a tour of the United States asking kids from varying cities and background about themselves, their fears and hopes, their outlook on the future, etc etc.

One day he gets asked from his sister to take care of his nephew Jessie for a few days, as she has to help her husband to deal with his recent bout of mental illness, so Johnny takes Jessie with him on his work days, and the two form a very special bond.

There’s the familiar dynamic of “not that mature adults with way too mature kids”, and the themes aren’t exactly unimportant, but honestly the films feels way too ponderous on the fact that “kids are people too”, and the way this dynamic works in here feels kinda contradictory in terms of responsability and parenthood, as the adult has never enough pulse to practice some of its own teachings, as Jessie never shuts up or its reprimended, but he’s overindulged even over the smallest, tiniest misunderstanding regardless.Even if it’s arguably less educative. Ops.

I don’t think this is a bad movie, but it’s a bit too cerebral, too fictitious at heart for its own sake, and bit boring at times, but its held together – despite these issues – by Joaquin Phoenix’s performance.

[EXPRESSO] CODA (2022) | Teenage Fugue

I kinda hate the context surrounding this movie, as it forces me to basically aknowledge that the Oscars still matter somewhat… as in, i usually don’t even bother to check on them, they’re mostly pointless and become even more so as time goes on, but i did know of “the slap” and that this year this film won “best movie”. And since it just hit theathers here, figured i’d take a look anyway.

CODA is about teenage girl Ruby, the only person in her deaf family being able to hear and speak (hence the titular “Child Of Deaf Adults”), that at school enters the choir club, and discovers to have quite the beatiful and powerful voice.

She eventually has to make a difficultion decision: continue her musical training, follow her dream and go to a respected music college, or keep helping her family in their struggling business of fishermen, even more as she’s the only link between their family and the rest of the world.

I’ll say this: this is a good film. It’s a coming of age story that deals with hearing disabilities, but honestly does so very well, as it treats deaf people as people, not pity patron saints, actual people, while not weaseling away from the obvious obstacles and perception they receive from others, and manages to balance the drama-comedy ratio quite well, it’s not a mopey affair at all, the characters come off as real but can be quite funny. I really liked the father, what a jolly fellow.

I’m glad i did go see CODA, i am, i do think it’s a good film, overall, but it’s honestly nothing special regardless of how you slice it, even more since it’s a remake of the 2014 french film La Famille Bélier.

Still worth a watch, anyway.

Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood

Meant to get around this one last year, but this time i did manage to find a way to watch it with subtitle, as i don’t speak hindi, and what could be called “the Indian King Kong” – to no one’s surprise – was never dubbed or re-released westward. Still easier to find than the dreaded Bacalhau.

Yep, among the many King Kong knock-off, there’s an old Bollywood (kinda) version from 1963.

Gotta love the shit-not giving use of stock footage “ice skating ballet girls, chimps & clown” that a crowd in India it’s supposedly watching, sure it has a dissonant color that makes it more even obvious, but who cares. And it’s not just 1 minute or two of stock footage from a non-indian ice skating show, when the head of the circus and the sponsor set down to see it in order to understand why it’s supposedly taking away business from them… you’re gonna see a good chunk of the show.

Well, at least we start the movie with some ape action, but not of that kind.

Continua a leggere “Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood”

[EXPRESSO] Licorice Pizza (2021) | Arcadia Of Our Youth

About damn time.

I wondered if it was even worth making this review, as i’m not here to be contrarian for the sake of it, i love P.T. Anderson works, and this one it’s no exception.

What are you reading now it’s essentially just to tally up the word count, not that you can give a well deserved anylisis of a movie like Licorice Pizza in 300 word or less.

The short version: absolutely recommended, without a doubt in my heart, excellent work, might even be a new masterpiece. GO SEE IT NOW.

Soldiering on with the “facade”, it’s very typical in many ways for the director: the San Fernando Valley circa mid-1970s’ scenario, the ensemble cast, etc.

And compared to his previous movie, The Phantom Thread, Licorice Pizza goes for a much simpler set up, as in a coming of age love story, girls meets boy, but aside from the shared trait of the notable age gap between the two, this stands as a complete opposite, as love it’s not sweet poison laced prison of the desire, but it’s the youthful, energic love of life itself.

Of course there is more to the plot than “girl meets boy, they fall in love”, as the high school aged boy, Gary Valentine, it’s actually a very young actor meet this far older girl, Alana Kane, with the two forming a strong friendship, to the point she becomes involved with Gary’s new water bed selling business, among other odd adventures.

It also confirms P.T. Anderson ability to craft a very different movie than its usual output, going for a very energetic, loving, positive tale of youth and love that packs a lot of laughs, incredible writing, excellent performances, while also not compromising on the director’s vision, style or substance for that matter.

[EXPRESSO] The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) | Gospel Canonicus

Kinda had to review this one as it drops here just now… and it’s the only big international release in theathers. Incredibly slow week.

I will preface i wasn’t really familiar with the subject itself… because we aren’t obliged to know every cultural phenomenon America experienced, and the idea of “televangelist” it’s pretty odd, maybe it’s just that i happen to live in the country where the Pope has its own enclave state.

I just knew it was a biopic fashioned out of a previous documentary (as the movie itself says) about this couple of televangelists that between the ’70s and 80s created a media empire by estabilishing the most popular religious TV broadcasting network in the world, with all the rivalry, obstructions and scandals that are bound to happen in the television business.

At the center of it is Tammy Faye, portrayed as a woman with incredible natural charm that genuinely wants to spread joy to all people but ends up used and attacked by people that want to bring her down.

On the plus side the cast it’s great, with Jessica Chastain in the title role, Andrew Garfield as her husband (and Vincent D’Onofrio)… but it’s clearly a case where the movie was entirely built on the singular premise of “Jessica Chastain is Tammy Faye”, there’s really nothing else to this obvious surface level selling point, it’s structured as a very by-the-numbers biopic, with no intention to dwelve to any depth into its own themes.

It’s a movie that feels made to make the cast and costume designers win awards more than actually saying anything of substance about the true story and people it’s based on.

It’s not boring or awful, but it’s definitely a movie held together by the admittely amazing performances more than any real vision.

[EXPRESSO] Nightmare Alley (2021) | Con Carny

If you’re wondering whenever you should or should not go watch Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film, Nightmare Alley (which has just released here in theathers)…. stop reading this and just go watch it in theathers. It’s 2 hours and a half, yes, but make no mistake, nothing is drawn out or superfluous, it’s one of those very long AND very good Hollywood movies that sometimes still happen.

It’s really fuckin great, so just go watch it now!

Set in the 1940s, the film follows a poor man that enters one of the many circus-fairs troupes, and alonsgide the many tricks of the shady trade, he learns that he has quite the ability as a barker, and trained by an old french mentalist-type carny, he puts his quick wit and oratory prowess to the test time and time again, until he masters them and leaves the circus (alongside his love interest) to bring his act out of the squallid, lurid and shady countryside fairs.

He manages to make a name for himself, bringing his deceptive craft to renowed establishments, living a luxurious life with his wife, but the allure of more money and fame brings him to collude with a corrupt psychatrist and perform as more than a mere mentalist…

The cast it’s great, the acting it’s stellar, the story it’s a classic period piece tale of greed and desperation about the age-old craft of tricking-conning people, the drama is excellent, the characters are great, and the love for horror imagery (and some fairly violent moments) by Del Toro it’s still strong as ever. The 1940’s America of carnies, conmen and prestige it’s alluring as its squallid, the cinematography is fantastic, and it’s enrapturing from beginning to end.

It’s that kind of arguably familiar story, but boy the execution is excellent.

[EXPRESSO] The Last Journey AKA Le Derniere Voyage (2020) | Majora’s Musk

Talk about a surprise release, since this 2020 french scifi movie only now has reached theathers in “The Boot”, and i’m willing to guess it never reached US theathers, since i didn’t even heard about it via social media.

Not even a mention, despite the original french title being similar to Luc Besson cult classic Le Dernier Combat, also a sci-fi movie with Jean Renò.

Regardless, the movie its set in a not too distant future (2050, in this case) where humanity it’s on the brink of extinction, with a red planetoid knows as the Red Moon is now coming so ever closer to Earth, bringing desertification, unliveable temperatures, animal extinctions and an energy crisis..

Only one man, Paul W.R., can save the day as he’s only one able to survive and pass through the magnetic field surrounding the planetoid, but mere days before the mission begins, Paul escapes to get away from his responsabilities, making the authorities start hunting him down, and he happens to meet a young girl called Elma, willing to follow him in his uncertain quest….

I’ll say that the cinematography it’s very good, some of the sequences are entertaining, there are some ideas, but the execution it’s just so confusing in many ways, as in the mesh of road movie and action scifi elements in a way that tries to kinda go for a more american-international feel or the themes and character motivations often feeling at odds, if not almost random.

Add a mediocre worldbuilding with some plot points never properly explained to make a simple plot kinda hard to follow, and you have a movie that’s perfectly watchable, has some good acting, but from beginning to end will have you more confused and annoyed than engaged at what’s going on and why exactly.

EUNGH.