Angel of Mine (2019): Drama / Mystery / Thriller

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Years after losing her daughter in a fire, a woman’s mental state takes a turn for the worse when she starts thinking that she is still alive.
Have you ever started watching a film not knowing anything about it other than something, down the line, somewhere is going to really go sideways and you just don’t know what that is?

Well, Angel of Mine happens to be one of them. A constant agony of what Lizzie (Noomi Rapace) is gonna totally screw up to the highest degree. The success of the film relies on that and it does indeed achieve it. Part of the reason is because kids are involved and part of it is because adults like her are involved.

As the slow-burn escalates, while nothing really substantial happens, you won’t stop wondering how far is she gonna take it?! And then it’s the ending… but I’m gonna leave that up to you. My only comment is that Fatal Attraction (1987) was that successful because of that kind of escalation; that climax. Anyhow, congratulations to both Noomi Rapace and Yvonne Strahovski for their remarkable performances.

Over the years I have convinced myself that a film should not have a single mood from the beginning till the end. Angel of Mine is unsettling and dead creepy throughout. And even though that’s not a plus, the abyss of the human mind, the vastness of its capabilities, the infinite goodness, but also its unfathomable limits to cause pain in any shape or form can be terrifying.

Stay safe!

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Upgrade (2018): Action / Sci-fi / Thriller

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In a world that technology controls every aspect of life, a technophobe not only finally embraces it but also upgrades himself to solve his wife’s murder.

Producer/Writer/Director Leigh Whannell, who penned the script for Saw (2004), and Blumhouse Productions bring to life an action/thriller that mustn’t go unnoticed. Logan Marshall-Green gets into the role and does a brilliant job as an ordinary man who’s going through… an upgrade and comes out extraordinary.

Visual effects that help the story move forward and the story itself easily avoids cliches and gimmicks. A highly recommended, low-budget sci-fi set in an ostensibly utopian future but with a lot more realism than meets the eye.

Boy Erased (2018): Biography / Drama

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A boy is sent by his parents to a church-supportive gay conversion program after revealing to them that he has “impure” thoughts about men.

Joel Edgerton proves time and time again that he was born and destined to be both in front and behind the camera. A fine addition and a major representative of the Australian film school.

The film: Garrard Conley’s heartfelt memoir is masterfully adapted for the big screen with nothing but emotion, sensitivity, honesty, and courage. Nicole Kidman, Russel Crowe, and Lucas Hedges give amazing performances, become mother, father and son, and open their house’s door for you to experience the suffering of their family’s drama. Non-linearly narrated, Boy Erased seems to be slightly holding its punches but delivers a clear message and puts the situation into perspective, establishing the backward, medieval, and shameless position of the church in the 21st century.

Life: Boy Erased is a drama that countless families across the globe face every year and, in their despair, they rely on a higher power to give them an answer to a natural, conscious choice that poses no question. The diversity of homosexual personalities, idiosyncrasies, quirks, and foibles extends as far as the heterosexuals’, the “normal”. And to this very day, men of science try to contextualise the “gay gene” – good luck isolating it from the “straight” one! And certain men of the cloth, and followers of an organisation, whose knowledge of the world is summarised in a fictitious book that is divorced from reality, want to cast out the “demon of homosexuality”.

Do we believe in God or do we believe in what others interpret of what God is? I remember being taught Jesus saying “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone”. But for the life of me, I can’t remember been taught about Him condemning homosexuality. We are soon entering the third decade of the 21st century, and by now, the State and the pharisaic Church should have been distinctively separated.

God is not to be blamed here. He Himself (is it ‘him’?) is the victim and sad creator of our decadent species. But there is still faith that the minorities in this world, who strive to make a difference, regardless of their age, gender, IQ, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs will one day grow more… and more… and more… and will dethrone archaic establishments, status quos, and organisations that have been ruling since the dawn of time. And “issues” such as homosexuality will stop being treated as “witch hunt”, will become accepted and, hopefully, soon after, will be taken as a matter of course where no one could care less.

And to quote the late Curt Cobain: “I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes”.

Snowtown (2011): Biography / Crime / Drama

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A few years ago, my really good friend Ben and I, sat down, ordered Chinese, and put “Snowtown” on. By the time food arrived, none of us were hungry and for the whole duration of the film, we didn’t say a word to each other. Damn, we barely spoke after…

There are some depressing films out there. Then there are some very depressing ones, extremely depressing ones… and then there is “Snowtown”! Based on the “bodies in the barrels” truly horrible, infamous murders, Justin Kurzel’s lens captures and depicts torture and murder like you’ve never seen before – and probably never will. Lacking – deliberately – artistic charisma,  “Snowtown’s” realism is unsettling as much as it is disturbing, projecting pure, raw violence as it is.

This is not just another film on serial killers. This is “Snowtown” on serial killers in Australia by Justin Kurzel! Where antiheroes and villains are valued less than dogshit! Where barbarity, savagery, and sadism are at their zenith! Where the “bathtub strangulation”, the “dog and the gun”, and the “brothers having a fight” sequences stay imprinted in your brain for eons!

Congratulations to the actors and actresses for delivering “despicable” amazingly!

You’ve been warned!

P.S. Do I recommend it? Definitely!!!

The Rover (2014): Action / Crime / Drama

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Wipe Hollywood completely out of Mad Max, and you get David Michôd’s post-apocalyptic Rover. This desolated Australia manages to crawl under every antihero’s skin and plant the seed of isolation and fear of their already existing despair.

In this endless pitch-black tunnel, a light shines upon the most unlikely friendship between furious Eric (Guy Pearce) and mentally vulnerable Rey (Robert Pattinson). A light that comes from the abyss of their soul, indicating that, even though everything has gone awry, the tide can still change.

Australian cinema is relentless as much as it is beautiful. And with producer/writer / director David Michôd and writer Joel Edgerton you know that it can only be relentlessly beautiful. Guy Pearce has always been spectacular which leaves us at the end with…

Robert Pattinson! A script has a main philosophy: Show, don’t tell! Robert Pattinson doesn’t say a word. He shows, having nothing to prove, that he is an actor. As if “Remember Me” (2010) was not evident enough, “The Rover” rubs it in haters’ faces.

Animal Kingdom (2010): Crime / Drama

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A cinematic achievement from writer/director David Michôd that will keep you engaged from the opening scene to the end credits. In front of the camera, Detective Guy Pearce and the not so beloved and highly dysfunctional Cody family, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Jackie Weaver, James Frecheville, Luke Ford, and Sullivan Stapleton, perform magic and take us back to some of the Melbourne crime scenes of the ’80s.

“Animal Kingdom”, a realistic crime/drama, straight out of the genuine Australian film school that always appeals to the deepest human emotions, is true to its genres and honest to its execution. A film that earned its stripes, gave prominence to actors and crew, got nominations all over the world and, unarguably, dominated at the AFI.

On The Beach (2000): Drama, Sci-Fi

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Almost 15 years ago, late at night, I watched it in my basement (drinking and smoking) and, in the end, three hours+ later, plastered, I was left wondering “is anyone alive”??? Over three hours of the perfect balance between world scale and personal drama/suffering that will depress and haunt you at the same time. Don’t be afraid of getting sucked into what could be the end of mankind.

P.S. I tried to watch it sober last month again – got sauced halfway there.

P.P.S. At least I’ve quit smoking…