[EXPRESSO] 1917 (2019) | Trench-A-Live

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The director of American Beauty and Revolutionary Road (also behind the last two Bond films, which i simply didn’t see) is back to the war epic 25 years after it’s own Jarhead, so yeah, it’s quite understandable all the buzz and expectations surrounding it, but i gotta be honest, i wasn’t exactly hyped, since the self-explanatory title tells you right away it’s set in WWI, but still, a more interesting proposal than going back to WWII (or Vietnam) again.

Set at the zenith of WWI, the film centers on two british soldiers stationed in northern France, Schofield and Blake, tasked to deliver an order from HQ, which tells of an upcoming surprise attack planned by the retreating German army. With thousands of lives on the line, the two must race through the hostile Western Front to call off the attack, and for Blake is personal, as his brother is in the squadron they’re trying to save.

Like you’ve probably heard by now, the movie is shot in a faux one-take, as to create a seamless single and constant feed over the lonesome journey through the Western Front, to emphasizes the urgency and stakes for everyone involved, capture the atmosphere of the desolated wastelands of the trenches as the character themselves wade through the dismal sceneries and confront the realities of the conflict, despite their task being oblique and minor in the grand scheme of things.

And yes, it works beautifully, making for an intense and captivating experience that doesn’t just rely on a “trick”, as the events and characters are intriguing themselves, making for good drama that is enhanced by the amazing camerawork and directorion, as is the terrific cinematography, the movie is worth seeing on the big screen just for that. Not for Cumberbatch, as he’s barely in the movie.

 

 

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[EXPRESSO] Stockholm (2018) | Chillin With The Captives

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So, this finally arrived in ol’ Italy a week ago, let’s review it!

Very loosely based on the events of the infamous Stockholm bank robbery of 1973 (and hence on the concept of “Stockhold Syndrome” which spun from it), Robert Budreau’s movie tells the story of the bizzarre bank robbery operated by Lars Nystrom, an eccentric and quirky criminal that occupies the bank, takes some hostages, and negotiates the release of his friend Gunnar, that joins Lars as a mediator.

But as the standoff between the criminals and the police proceeds, the hostages form a bonding relationship with their captors, willing to take their sides over the police’s.

As you may expect, it’s a very romanticized take on the story, with many liberties taken (like the use of Bob Dylan songs instead of Elvis and Roberta Flack’ tracks by the strange criminal), and the oddity of the whole situation lend itself quite nicely to a crime comedy, with some decent drama and interesting execution, and likable characters.

While it’s done fairly well, well casted and acted, the idea of a movie about the Stockolm bank robbery is quite nice, it has some issues, mostly because it never fully commits to it’s stance on the matter of police abuse, despite the script being pretty clear who you’re supposed to symphatize with, but ultimately painting the picture of a complex situation, an absurd but more realistic one, which is fine, but it’s also playing a bit too safe.

For me, at least.

That and the characterization is ultimately uneven, because we get a romance between Lars and Clara, but even Gunnar is just……… kinda there for the most part, like the other hostages. Which is kinda disappointing.

Still, a more than decent movie, could have been better, but not bad at all!

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[EXPRESSO] Shazam! (2019) | Say My Name!

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Superhero time again, with the DC offering of Shazam!, a series/characters that (like for most DC properties) i really wasn’t familiar at all, so i didn’t have any expectations of fidelity to the source material for this adaptation.

Billy Batson is a 15 years old boy that keeps escaping from foster homes in search of his mother, and yet again is assigned to a new family, that he tries to get away as well. But he summoned as the Champion by an old wizard, that passes his powers unto him by uttering his name, Shazam, as he’s too old to keep the Seven Deadly Sins sealed away into stone statues.

Billy transforms in a full grown and caped adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi), but as he’s still a teenager, he just fucks about with his newfound abilities, acts like an arrogant idiot, but the appareance of an occult villain (played by Mark Strong), will force him to not play the hero, but become an actual one in order to save his family.

If you are feeling tired of the genre (and of some of Marvel copious offerings), and think you might skip this one, don’t. It’s funny, really funny, the action is good, the humour is incredibly well balanced with the more emotional moments (which don’t shy away from being serious and dramatic), and overall the comedy never feels out of touch or “mandated”. It’s earnest, understanding, like it’s young main character, trying to figure where he belongs more than how to cast lazer beams from his eyes.

All of this with good characters, and a really welcome touch of horror (there’s some decapitation, which i really didn’t expect, but nothing too graphic overall), making it one of the best superhero movies i’ve seen in a while.

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P.S.: Stay not just for a post-credit scene, but for the ending credits themselves, funny and tonally fitting of the overall tone. 🙂

Also, yeah, i know that the horror bits are not so surprising, given the director previous works, like Lights Out.